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About distributing leaflets in mailboxes

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Last month I spent sometime delivering fliers in mailboxes. It was a job that was tougher than I had expected.

I had actually inquired about it back in December (2022). I was alone then and had some time to kill. I did not care so much about the money then and I thought if I got that opportunity, it would be good to take long walks with an added purpose.

I did not get a chance then, but they contacted me last month and gave me a “job”. Initially I was overwhelmed – there were close to 4400 fliers to be delivered across suburbs until 10 kms away from where I live (Asquith, a suburb in upper north shore of Sydney). Since the leaflets were about a section of the Sydney train’s rail network’s closure due to maintenance works, they were targeting the residential areas around the train stations of Berowra, Mount Kuring-gai, Mount Colah, Asquith and Hornsby.

I was skeptical about being able to do it but still accepted the job because I wanted to give it a fair attempt and for the experience. I had the luxury of two weekends (and I could also do it on weekdays of course).

They did provide some guide maps for the areas to cover, though in hindsight, I think, they should have been a bit more detailed than that. Anyway, to maximise the potential of the weekends at hand, I had to do a rough plan to optimise the leaflets distribution.

First I looked at the suburbs that were farthest from where I was (Asquith): Berowra, Mount Kuring-gai and to some extent, Mt Colah. Berowra is almost 10 KMs away.
The suburbs closest to my area were: Mount Colah (north of Asquith), Hornsby (south of Asquith) and of course, areas in Asquith itself.

Then I categorised the areas within the suburb into one of the following categories:

1. Far off – houses (Berowra, Mount Kuring-gai, some parts of Mount Colah)
2. Far off – apartment blocks (Mount Colah)
3. Nearby – houses (Asquith)
4. Nearby – apartment blocks (Asquith, Hornsby)

I first chose Berowra and Mount Kuring-gai as they were far off since I could use my weekend time well there. I covered those areas on the first weekend. I could only give a couple of hours per day, so I chose early mornings for that.

The nearby ones were where I could walk or were a short drive away.

Houses are tricky because you’d probably have to walk around 4-5 meters for every frontyard’s mailbox. That and coupled with the uneven terrain that you get at places like Berowra and Mt Kuring-gai, it wasn’t an easy task. I understood early that I’d have to pick up a street, cover a few around it and then use my car to cover the other parts of the suburbs. So I’d park my car at an intersection of neighbourhood streets and try to maximise the walking radius.

On the other hand, apartments are any leaflet delivery person’s delight. You could spend an hour on streets of independent, stand-alone houses and barely manage finding 100 mailboxes, or you could get lucky and find an apartment building that’d present itself with 120 mailboxes that you’d fill up in 10 minutes. I found out that doing evening runs (ok, walks) on weekdays for high density apartment areas (Hornsby mostly) was more rewarding. Also, I could do them at night as most apartments were at places where there was ample street lighting. To do houses at night was unimaginable.

This was the planning part – however, the effort that went into it, despite the planning painted a less rosy picture. I had to record my walking trails (which was fine because that was the only way for them to know if I had actually walked and not cheated). So here’s all the walking I did and the time taken:

KMs | Time (in minutes)
—- |———————
2.42 | 36
4.16 | 50
3.19 | 43
3.47 | 53
2.88 | 40
1.88 | 23
0.66 | 12
3.54 | 58
0.61 | 17
1.25 | 32
1.79 | 44
0.85 | 29
1.35 | 44
0.21 | 2
3.07 | 51
0.63 | 26
1.57 | 63
5.12 | 79
38.65 | 702

Ultimately I ended up walking about 39 KMs in a total of approximately 12 hours. The total amount I was paid was based on per thousand leaflets ($50 AUD/1000). As it turned out, that walking effort that you see there yielded me $220 AUD. If I simply take a per hour rate based on the time recorded while walking, it comes to around $19 AUD per hour. The national minimum wage rate in Australia is $23 AUD per hour. So, it misses the mark by a huge margin. The other thing such a job does not consider is the sheer amount of physical tiredness one has to endure as a result of the effort (Notice that I maximised my time window to do this work). Also, I have not even counted the time taken to drive to/from the points where I started to walk, nor have I considered the cost of the fuel.

All in all, I don’t think distributing leaflets presents itself as a lucrative way to earn money – especially given the rates that they offer vis-a-vis the physical effort and time it takes. I wrote this up as a way to document my experience hoping that it helps someone understand the effort it takes to do a task that otherwise sounds very attractive and easy.


So much thanks to my friend MI, who pushed me to restart this blog after a long time. I hope, with this, I am able to blog regularly like I used to before.

Written by aditya kumar

July 24th, 2023 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Personal,Sydney

The Woman in Red

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In 1999, I was in the city of Indore, trying to be a graduate. It was a quiet little city in the heartland of Central India. It was “small town India” – it did not have a significant urban population.

During those days, there were no cinema halls in Indore where we could watch English movies. The best and closest we could experience Hollywood was at a movie hall called Neelkamal cinema – located in the old part of the city, near Malwa Mill. The movie hall, the building and the interiors were badly maintained and in shambles but it was the only movie theatre that played Hollywood movies, dubbed in Hindi.

We clung on to what we got because these were little joys that life had to offer. Watching a movie, in those days, used to be a long, delightful affair. Long, because we used to live outside the town and it was a long excursion to the city and the excitement that used to build up was hard to contain. Then, only the best movies used to make their way to the ragged old screen at Neelkamal.

One such movie was “The Matrix”.

Now, I won’t go into the whys and hows of how amazing a movie The Matrix was – I watched it about 4 times later and it had a cult following in years to come. The movie was such that I know people, myself included, who remember exact scenes of that movie, to this day. One such scene in that movie was the woman in the red dress – she comes out of nowhere when a bewildered Neo (Keanu Reeves –
he always has that expression, doesn’t he) is getting a guided tour of The Matrix. She smiles at Neo as she crosses him and as Neo looks back, the lady is transformed into an Agent who has his gun trained on Neo. You can read more about that scene and the woman here.

As the scene happens, the music playing in the background is Rob Dougan’s Clubbed to Death, an instrumental composition that is my favourite track from the movie. Together, with this music and the scene, this was (is) my favourite part of the movie. I used to watch that scene again and again, on dvd.

You may be wondering where I am going with all these long descriptions – of a small town movie theatre and a specific scene of a movie that I saw 18 years ago. Bear with me, please.

A few days ago I realized that the premise of that scene – my favourite scene of The Matrix, was merely a few meters behind my office in Sydney. I can tell you this – my world turned upside down. With joy, of course.

Such was my happiness that I went there, not once but twice, that day. I kept telling about it to everyone I met. While returning home from work, I went there with my earphones on, playing, what else, but “Clubbed to Death”. I walked that path, acting bewildered; acting, oh, so Neo.

I was then left with a sense of wonder that lingers on, even now. Back in 1999, in awe of that movie scene while trying to find the little joys of life, could I, 18 years old, ever imagine that one day I’ll be standing at the very place where Neo met the Woman in Red?

I promise you – not in my wildest dreams.

Life can take you far.

Written by aditya kumar

January 5th, 2018 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Cinema,Personal,Sydney

Cusps of Life

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Last year we moved to Sydney. It was a move that me and my wife had been planning for more than 3 years. The idea was to move to Australia and get a job. 

I wouldn’t go into the details, as much has happened over the last year and a half: job, setting up a home and our daughter started going to pre-school. Suffice to say that we feel settled.

The one thing I often wonder about is how I don’t find myself missing Bangalore. I lived in Bangalore for close to 12 years and it is the longest I have ever been in one place. I do miss “things” of Bangalore, the coffee, the darshinis, the food, the vibe of MG Road but that’s about it. 

You generally don’t miss a “city”. You can’t. It’s as if, if I were to be there, in Bangalore, at this moment, will I derive the satisfaction that I used to derive, say, in 2008? So what I am missing now isn’t the city, it is the time I spent back in 2008 and it won’t come back. Nostalgia aside, cities, like people, like you and me, change (often for the worst). You can either love them, live them or you leave them. 

Being in love with your surroundings, at any given time, is when your “level” of evolution is at a point that matches of everything around you. So my time in Bangalore and the things they were during that time were at a cusp and that, sort of, defines my time there. Such is the case with different phases of our lives, our times and our surroundings. I like to think of the external surroundings and factors that affect our lives as “arcs” and our own life as one big arc – that of a circle with a much bigger diameter. The smaller arcs touch the bigger arc at various points, forming many cusps. Where those cusps are formed are the most important, if not critical, times of our lives. Those three years in Bangalore, between 2007 and 2010 were such years for me.

How big a cusp will form, with our lives here in Sydney, only time will tell.

Written by aditya kumar

November 19th, 2017 at 2:50 pm