Saturday 29 July 2017

My taxi sojourns

S was our faithful taxi driver - We used his services whenever we were having guests or the husband was away and I needed to commute to and from College. There was a time when S was my mode of transportation for a whole two months. He would come in the morning at 8 and we would make our way through the highway and the narrow road commonly known as the junction. Our togetherness was brief, say a brief seven-minute in the morning and then another seven in the afternoon. But those minutes were an assortment of the weather forecast, politics, students of today, elders of yesterday, traffic defaulters, irresponsible animal owners and so on.

The journey would begin with, "Good morning S ji. Looks like it will rain today." To which, I would receive, "maybe yes or maybe not." Then the topic would skirt around the current trending news and our opinions. S ji would thrillingly use MC, BC and other colourful words which would shake me out of my reverie but then when feelings have to be expressed, why would a sieve be used. And then without much ado, we would fall silent only to puncture it with something else that catches his or my eye.

Together we used to count the days of the husband's return and mark his duty days with me. Our mornings were clouded with the urge to rush to College and our afternoons with the urgency to go home and rest. S would have stories of his customers and how each one was different from the other - some made him wait for hours while some were stingy; some wanted only his taxi services with low prices, of course, and some called him when their friends were in town. There was a fare for regulars and there was a fare for regulars' friends.

S was well versed with the kind of people after experiencing them as his customers. He could spot a rotten apple in a basket of many. He could advise on traffic timing and low prices in shops. He was an encyclopedia of the common man. I knew what he ate and what his children were up to and when he woke up, offered puja and bathed. Nonchalantly, he would talk about the area's councillors, police personnel, customs officer and their stories of greed and power. Everyone had been his customer one time or the other.

He used to understand my measly bank balance mid-month and lament how it is impossible to earn enough in a straightforward service. He used to say, "dho number ka kam se khoob paisa kama sakthey" (Illegal work only could earn more money).

I look forward to those mornings and afternoons when S and I chat endlessly and merrily about all and sundry. Then one day the journeys with S stopped with the husband coming back and my knowledge bank of 'local' stories became scarce and limited.

I then wondered, "What stories would I tell my students?" But then there is a story everywhere!


  1. If it's a regular driver, the chatting with him would be a natural thing to do. I think at the taxi station where I sometimes order a taxi they're instructed not to start a chat with the passenger unless the latter is
    the one who does that. Personally, I don't like to chat during the journey, and it's safer for both this way.

    1. Dear DUTA: Thanks for stopping by. Yes, this is our regular taxi who we call whenever there is a need. I know many members of his family as well. I am a big chatterbox and start a conversation with almost anyone on any sundry topic.

      Hope you have been well.

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