IT WAS by chance that Tharama-lingam Shanmugam, 67, found his way into the newspaper delivery business some 31 years ago.
The hardware store where he was employed had closed down and he suddenly found himself without a job.
“Fearing the worst and to keep the wolf from the door, I decided to become a news vendor after observing a young Chinese boy distributing newspapers in the Petaling Jaya area,” he said.
Tharamalingam initially delivered papers in the early hours of the morning on a part-time basis and worked full-time as a television technician in Kerinchi, Kuala Lumpur.
However, after around 15 years, he decided to deliver newspapers full-time in Petaling Jaya.
“The job may seem easy, but it is not.
“It requires vendors to wake up as early as 3am for newspaper collection at the designated drop-off point before we start the sorting and distribution.
“Sometimes, my nephew would help, making the process much faster and easier as newspapers had to be delivered on time,” Tharamalingam said.
“There are no holidays or the luxury of taking leave in this line of work, except during the main festivals when there are press holidays.
“There was one time when I still had to deliver newspapers and could not be present when a close family member died.
“I was unable to contact my fellow vendors to help out as there were no handphones back then,” he recalled.
These days, Tharamalingam takes it easy after his delivery rounds.
He tends to spend more time at home, reading his favourite daily -– The Star.
“The newspaper is my ‘brain food’ for it allows me to keep abreast of the latest goings-on.
“When I was younger, I used to read the sports pages without fail, especially on football.”
Tharamalingam has no plans to retire, saying he will continue to work for as long as he can.