Image: © depositphotos.com/rahhal
This long-circulated message discusses a man named Babu Sassi, an Indian crane operator working on the Burj Dubai ( now called Burj Khalifa ), a skyscraper that is the tallest building in the world.
According to the message, Babu, who is supposedly revered by his coworkers for his skill and daring, actually lives in the cabin of his crane because it takes too long to come down to the ground each day. The message also claims that, in comparison with other workers in Dubai, Babu is extremely well paid for his dangerous work.
Burj Khalifa is a real building and it is indeed the tallest in the world. However, the accuracy of the other claims in the message remains unclear. The message began circulating back in 2008 while the building was still being constructed.
Most of the text of the message is apparently taken from a longer article by journalist Louise Armistead in December 2008. However, Armistead does not specify sources and, so far, I have found no other credible references that confirm the claims in the story.
A worker named Babu Sassi quite possibly did operate a crane on the Burj Dubai site. However, I am yet to find a reference to him that is not derived from Armistead’s article. According to an information chart detailing the wage structure for Indian workers employed in the UAE, crane operators have a minimum wage of 1800 dirhams per month, which is quite a bit more than other workers. It is possible that an especially skilled crane operator working at such unprecedented heights might have received considerably more than 1800 dirhams a month, but 30,000 sounds a little unlikely.
It is also conceivable that Babu did stay in the crane overnight, but the rumour claiming that he lived in the cramped space of a crane cabin for over a year sounds farfetched to say the least. Moreover, the claim that Babu lived in the crane because it took him too long to come down to the ground each day is also farfetched. The site employed thousands of workers (7,500 skilled workers as of June 2008) many of whom presumably worked high atop the building. And many photographs of the site, including the one that comes with the circulating message, show multiple cranes at work so Babu is certainly not the only crane operator working there. Thus, like any other high-rise construction, Burj Dubai must have had safe and efficient methods of moving workers, including crane operators, up and down the building. So, there seems no reason why Babu could not have descended with other workers at the end of his shift.
Moreover, research indicates that, like other construction sites in Dubai, work on the tower continued 24 hours a day. Presumably, therefore, Babu would need to vacate his “home” to make way for other operators lest the cab become very cramped indeed!
Big construction jobs have always generated their fair share of urban legends and tall tales and this might well be one of them. That said, without more concrete information, it would be premature to declare these claims about the legendary Babu’s sleeping arrangements and salary as false.
Perhaps Babu did earn a small fortune and sleep in his crane cab. Stranger things have happened.
In any case, the legendary Babu would have moved on to other projects years ago. The building was completed in late 2009 and opened in January 2010.
An example of the message:
Subject=:WHO IS IN THE HIGHEST POSITION IN THE WORLD? – scroll right to the end
Do you know who is in the highest position in the World?
President George Bush?
Pres Elect Barack Obama?
UN Secretary General?
Wonder No Longer…
Babu Sassi, a fearless young man from southern India is the cult hero of Dubai ‘s army of construction workers.
Known as the “Indian on the top of the world”, Babi is the crane operator at the world’s tallest building , the 819-meter Burj Dubai. His office, the cramped crane cab perched on top of the Burj, is also his home. Apparently it takes too long to come down to the ground each day to make it worthwhile. When the building is completed, its elevators will be the world’s fastest.
Stories about his daily dalliance with death are discussed in revered terms by Dubai ‘s workers. Some say he has been up there for more than a year, others whisper that he’s paid 30,000 dirhams ($8,168) a month compared with the average wage of 800 dirhams a month. All agree he’s worth it.