There are no holidays and pleasure trips at whim for this 57-year-old traffic warden at Kadiyali junction. School holidays are his holidays. A familiar figure for residents and school children alike, T S Aboobaker's service is commendable. And for this he has received brickbats in equal measure as bouquets. And even been called a lunatic and crazy at other times. For the past 30 years, Aboobaker has been reaching Kadiyali junction at sharp 8.15 am, just when traffic peaks. His job: manning traffic at the busy junction and helping school children cross the roads. He is on this job till 10am. And then he is back at the same junction at 4 pm when school leaves and continues till 5pm. And mind you, Aboobaker is not your regular traffic warden from the police department. Yes, he did dream about being a traffic warden as a child. But like many of us never followed it up until one fateful day 30 years ago. While at work, he saw a young school boy being knocked down by a bus. Aboobaker rushed across and carried the boy to hospital. Timely intervention saved the little one's life. And it was then that he decided that he would help school children cross the road safely. Most of the children are from Kamala Bai School and other schools nearby. Aboobaker runs a small business of making seat cushions for two-wheelers and school bags at Kunjibettu. Born in Honnale near Brahmavar he spent his early days in Thirthahalli, later worked in in Darjeeling, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Nasik, and specialized in stitching rifle box covers. He has been rewarded for his services by NGOs, social organizations and Udupi Krishna Mutt seers.
A prized possessions is the traffic warden's uniform home minister V S Acharya presented him with after a trip from the US, as a token of recognition for his work.
Aboobaker was also bestowed a Traffic Warden badge and honour by former Udupi SP Murugan. He keeps the badge as a treasure. Aboo Saheb or Traffic Saheb as he is fondly called by the locals, is often called to other parts of the town and district whenever there is a traffic jam or during festivals. With his daughters married, Abu Saheb is a contended man. "God has given me enough to have two square meals a day with my small business. I intend to continue to serve as a traffic warden in Kadiyali, and to take care of school children as long as I have strength in my body," he says. (Writeup Courtesy: K Mohanachandran Nambiar, TNN/ TOI)