There was a time when Amitabh Bachchan starring in movies like ‘Coolie’ evoked emotions and respect for the lives of coolies porting luggage at Indian railway stations to earn their livelihood. Porters (Indians call them ‘Coolies’) are a key feature of a Indian railway station in their resplendent red uniform! Times have changed for coolies though. Today when it comes to luggage transport on railway stations, passengers know and act differently and it has affected the trade of porters (coolies) badly.
Afterall, who needs a coolie when you can simply buy luggage that can stroll off on wheels? When it comes to train journeys, there are some days that passengers do need to rush and catch a train along with a number of luggage/bags that require carting. Coolies might come in handy because they usually know different trains, timings, schedule and platforms along with where a bogie/compartment is usually located (by the back of their hand) which save passengers precious time, and it works really well when there is no time to figure out train details.
It is sad to see coolies/porters at train stations under siege due to innovation of luggage with wheels. Due to it, less and less people need porters and helpers for their hike up and down a busy railway platform (and stations). It is slowly taking its toll as porters find themselves struggling for survival due to introduction of escalators at railway station, and also at the hands of innovative stroller-style bags which is greatly affecting their earnings.
There are days that coolies just wait even as passengers walk past with their suitcases, keeping them waiting. Maybe there is an Uber for ‘on-demand’ coolies in the works by a 20 something.
How do you think this transition has affected traditional professions? Will they adjust to new trends, reinvent themselves or simply give up? As a profession facing a surge of change, will they want their next-generation to continue with the hardships they are facing at the brink of technology/lifestyle changes?
Share your thoughts with me.