A 165km expressway connecting Mathura in western Uttar Pradesh with the national capital has transformed 32-year-old Rajdeep Upamanyu’s life. Upamanyu, a Class XII dropout, is the owner of a dhaba located at the point where the Yamuna Expressway meets the bumpy Raya Road in Lohvan, the tip of Mathura linking Delhi with the city of temples. Two years ago, this journey would have taken a tourist more than three hours. Now it takes less than an hour-and-a-half. For Upamanyu, the six- lane Yamuna Expressway inaugurated in August 2012 meant more tourists which, in turn, meant more income
Name: Rajdeep Upamanyu, 32
Profession: Owner of a dhaba and a transport business
Family: Wife, infant son and brother who is pursuing MCA. Both parents are retired
Education: Class XII
Place: Lohvan, around 8km from Mathura city
Do you save more or less, compared with 2004?
I have more money. My income has gone up by at least five times and I started a transport business a year ago. I bought an apartment in Mathura worth almost a crore and refurbished my parental home in Lohvan
What does your house now have that it did not in 2004?
An air conditioner, four cellphones and a WagonR which I bought two years ago
How many holidays have you been to in the last 10 years?
I went for my first real holiday in 2011 when we went to Dehradun. Recently, I took my family to Delhi by road
How did you travel then and how do you travel now?
Travelled mostly by bike. Because of the bad condition of the roads, I had a backache. I hope the rest of the roads in this city would be as smooth as the Yamuna Expressway
Have you ever been on a flight?
No. I usually travel by train
How many bank accounts do you have? Do you use Internet banking?
Earlier, I had only one bank account. But as my earnings grew, I opened other accounts. I now use Internet banking
Do your children go to school?
My child is six months old. But I have already decided on a private English medium school for him
Do you encounter more corruption or less in your daily life?
Corruption is the single biggest problem in my life. Two years ago, I started a transport business and whenever my cars or drivers were involved in skirmishes on the road, I had to pay the police to get bail
How many movies do you watch in a month?
I watch every good movie that releases in the month with my family. Usually, watching a movie and eating out is our weekend entertainment
How many times in a month do you go shopping?
We shop a lot. Now that I have loose cash, I can buy much more. Most of the time, we buy clothes
Do you have a cellphone?
I had a Motorola phone earlier, but have now moved on to a Rs 30,000 Samsung touch phone
What do you do with the cellphone?
Make calls. Take pictures. (While Upamanyu was speaking with us, he received at least five calls on his mobile, mostly people from the city to discuss the elections)
Do you run out of money to buy food towards the end of the month?
No, I don’t
What is your biggest regret in the past 10 years?
That I didn’t finish my studies.
What is the single biggest factor responsible for changing your life in the past 10 years?
The Yamuna Expressway. This has been a factor in not only my life but also in the lives of many here. After this stretch came into being, the number of tourists driving down here has increased. This also means that roadside businesses have boomed. Also, unlike earlier, we are now getting weekend tourists who drive down to Mathura and Agra. (The expressway links Greater Noida in the National Capital Region to Agra with an arterial exit for Mathura). This city is known for its temples and people come from far and wide to see them. However, the roads are all falling apart. Only a Mathura resident can tell you how important roads are for them
Are you happier or sadder now? Why?
I am probably the happiest now than ever before because at this time, I feel I am giving my family a good life and building a future for them as well.