My Tryst with a Crazy Cabby

Oh Bombay!

As I otherwise immerse myself completely for the cause of foul-smelling genetically modified organisms in the lab, there are only the sudden, last minute get-away plans that have been my saving grace for quite sometime now. And my saviour is one of my junior-school friends, who is now working for Fractal Analytics. Posted in Mumbai, he resides just a few kilometers further on the JVLR, making it easy for me to make quick escapes from the lab.

This Saturday, with the plausible excuse being meeting a third friend, I skip my preconceived afternoon catnap to gear up for another night out with the guys. After lazily browsing for the bus routes for half an hour on Google Navigation, I called a cab-service, only to take an auto-rickshaw finally. The auto-man, for some very odd reason, immediately asked me if I had a girlfriend. (I can't possibly be that handsome now, can I?!) Sensing weirdness, I cut my route short and forcefully asked him to drop me at the IIT  main gate itself. After he vanished by the horizon in the traffic, I whistled down another yellow/black taxi and got in.

'Kidhar jaane ka he?' Where to monsieur? (Not in that way exactly..)
'Majas..'
'Majas mein kidhar ko?' Where in Majas?
'Majas Depot..'
'Toh bahar kaiko khada hai bhau, abhi andar baithne ka na!'
After being stung by an immediate charm from within the taxi, I barged in. He sped up almost immediately, with half of me yet to step into his cab.

'Majas pahuchne mein time lagega. Toh timepass karna toh banta hai.. kyun bhau?' It'll take about 20-30 minutes to reach my destination. So the driver's rights of availing some means to kill time stood vindicated. Yes, even if we were speeding our way in heavy traffic on the JVLR.

'Totally, bhau!' I was game.

Without warning, he bellowed out with a song! A semi-popular song from the Bollywood of 80s, I guess. I didn't know the song, but it was kind of a social-song - you know, like one from a Raj Kapoor movie. Good one, too! One song after another, and the driver suddenly blows into a self-approved commentary. His commentary told me something about him. He wasn't meant to be a driver forever. A radio jockey of some talk show perhaps, having it's own unique niche. Also, he had a God complex about himself - in a funny way. His ride was an entertainment package in a whole and I wasn't regretting.

'Humara funda in life is simple, bhau' said he, 'Life jeene ke dui tareekke hote hain - kar bhala, ya mar saala!' (Applause please!) Please note that all I could say, was an intermittent 'Sahi hai, bhau!' (which is like Bang on, bro!) after each sentence statement.

'Haathi ke dikhane ke daant alag, chabane ke alag..'
'Sahi hai, bhau!'
'..par apun sabka bhala karta hai, consciously kabhi kisi ka bura nahi karna chaha. Logo ne, apno ne, duniya ne - sabne dhokha diya mere ko. Par apun nahi darra, chalta raha. With a shmyle (smile) in my phashe (face)!'
'Sahi hai, bhau!' with a pat on his back. Some genuine support.
'Ye-ich apun ka philosophy hai.. Right, na bhau?'
'Sahi hai, bhau!'

Wishing I could stay on the taxi forever, I assured him that I'm in no hurry and that he could go slower. Partly also because I was terrified he'll bump into something while delivering his sermons, with closed eyes. At 90kmph in heavy traffic, that is not something I'm looking forward to.

'Aap kidhar se ho, bhau?'
'Hum hindustan ke hain!'
Okay, must rephrase. 'Par aapka ghar kahan hai?'
'Yahi samjhiye ki aap jahan andar rehte hain, hum wahin bahar rehte hain..'
The unromantic, art-hater in me, asked him 'Achha, toh Powai mein?'
He passed a quick sorry-ish glimpse on the rear-view mirror, 'Aap logo ke dilon mein rehte hain. Aur hum usi ke theek bahar..'
Okay, that was touching. Still, my reply was 'Sahi hai, bhau!'
Dammit!

After his fifth song, which you will find a sample of - here - he asked my permission to deliver a shayari. I encouraged him, 'Irshaad!'


'Mandir mein jaata hu, toh puja kar leta hoon,
Masjid mein jaata hoon, toh thoda namaz padh leta hoon..

kaheen log mujhe bhagwan na samajh le,
Apun thoda sa paap bhi kar leta hoon!'
I was impressed, yes, but all I could utter was 'Sahi hai, bhau!' again.

Now wherever we got stuck in traffic, we were stared upon from other co-travelers. Families, autowallas, drivers, police - everyone. Reason being the super loud volume by which my Man Friday here, was bawling. At one such moment, he asked me 'Bhau, Majas aane ko hai.. Ab aapka ek gaana gaana banta hai! Peleej!'

Determined not to be a killjoy, I sing the first song that comes to my mind - Maa from Taare Zameen Par. My chance to keep the tomfoolery two-sided, and his time to end it up with 'Sahi hai, bhau!' Instead, he says nothing. Disappointed, I keep quiet too.

...

Few minutes later, he stops the cab few stops before we reach my destination. And to my horror, he sniffs!
'Dude! Are you crying? Bhau..?'
'Touch kiya aapka voice mere ko. Bahut dard hai aapke voice mein, bhau..'
Eyebrows raised, I asked 'Are you sure?' and he gave me a 'you'll never know' look. Okay, that's crazy! People around me totally thought I assaulted my cab driver.

'Bhau, chalo! Aur ek achha gaana sunata hoon..' Damage control!
Shit! Shit! Shit! As we started again, I sing a relatively happy song, 'Meethi Boliyan' from Kai Po Che. What the hell happened all of a sudden! I'm being driven by a child!!

He keeps mum. I feel guilty.

When we reached, I took out my wallet to pay him the fare. Maybe a tip.
'Aye zindagi, humein sohbaton ka nasha hai.. Sohbat ka meaning malum, bhau?' asked the sober cab driver, quoting the chorus line from the song I last sang.
'Nah, bhau..'
'Sohbat maane company. Carporation wala company nahi, friendship wala company.'
Umm, okay.. I reflected on him, very much impressed. Is he on twitter?
'Humein aapka sohbat achha laga.. thank you!' and he sped away as I stared after him.

Beautiful, interesting people, everywhere! One of the many reasons, I'm in love with Bombay, already! Until next time, Ciao.

12 comments:

  1. How do you manage to bump into such wonderful and interesting characters? I hope you meet him again. I sincerely do. I just felt so good after reading this.

    He didn't take the money. Did he?
    Your signature haan-ha was so evident in the recording.

    Keep writing. :)

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    1. Oh I would have been extremely surprised if he hadn't. But he didn't take a tip anyway! And seriously, I don't know how I meet them.. Sometimes I think if its just me?! And yeah, tried my best to remove my insignificant voice from it - but that's impossible!
      Thank you, Somi di!

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  2. This man certainly had other plans! Not a cab driver!!!. Wow... n u've written beautifully as always. thumbs up :)

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    1. Yep! That man was born to be something else. Radio jockeying would've suited his outlook, I say. Well, its my luck that I found him and may I find him again! Million thanks for the beautiful comment from a very beautiful person.. Cheers!

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  3. Often such guys start behaving like philosophers after consuming a little liquor (having being BYORA). In that dream city many breath with scores of dreams in their eyes which find their way out from hearts whenever they are in mood. We say this ' Bharas nikaalna'. Anyway your sojourn with such a guy appealed us all. The big thing is you enjoyed and thereafter written it very nicely.
    Keep on writing.

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    1. Big thing was that I took part! I shy away from active participation when it comes to 'Bharaas nikalna!' but I needed the guy to continue, so I relented soon enough.

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  4. Ma enjoys listening your story as she herself enjoys gossiping with rickshaw pullers. She is saying 'My Bachcha ..........'
    Congrats.

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  5. I loved, loved LOVED this post! Such a funny, adorable and touching story. The cab driver sings pretty well you know and I am already a fan of YOUR voice :D you could have recorded and uploaded the ones you sang too!
    Enjoyed this post immensely. I hope you have more interesting encounters like this :D

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    1. You really want to hear my voice? Here goes one from my guitar practice sessions in college - http://youtu.be/kO_SHD7R99k - and I'm glad you like this post!

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  6. are u sure he was a taxi driver! :O
    the first feel I had reading your blog was, Wow, this is Bollywood ACTUALLY!.. u have the movie feel everywhere :)
    what an amazing character really!

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