A Quick Bit(e) of Desi Nostalgia

As y'all probably know, I went home to India last year in December. I met, snuggled and caught up with my family, cousins, girlfriend, friends, their families, the house staff, the local grocer and the the homeless man down the street. No I didn't exactly snuggle with the last two. They all asked me about my Floridian life and whatnots. They carefully stayed away from any kind of update on my work life. They're not a very 'sciency' bunch back home. Which was good, because I took a backseat from all the work and instead tried to suck in all the Indian-ness that I've missed all this time.

The first thing I did was talk in my UP-waali Hindi with the cab driver on the way from the airport to where I stayed the night in the capital.

"Bhaiya, thand nahi padi abhi tak aap ki Nayi Delhi mein?" I started a warm conversation about the speculated delay in the onset of winter in New Delhi.
"Nahi, sir ji. Thand ki toh maa ch** rakhhi hai Dilli mein!" replied the driver. Winter is (as he much eloquently put it) quite fuc**d.
"Pollution toh kaafi badh gaya hai yahaan, bhaiya?!" said I, without sounding too condescending about the rise in air pollution in the country.
"Arrey ka bataaye aapko sir ji, ee behn***do ne sab police logan ko khila-pila ke bh**wa bana rakkha hai.. aur pollution ki maa ki a**kh ho rakhhi hai!" said he, as we sped across on the highway, leaving a thick black smoke behind us. The cuss words he spewed time and again while describing how widespread corruption has rendered the police system decadent, were absolutely on point. Almost like the beats in a peppy South Indian (read, Telugu) song. He was probably talking about the vehicular emissions and how the cops are supposed to keep a check on them.
"Construction bhi toh kaafi chal raha hai.. dhua-dhua ho gaya hai sab." I remarked, keeping a straight face, making note about the impact of construction work.
"Arrey unki maa ka.." began he. But I zoned out instantly.

I felt at home, listening to all the swearing in my native language. The immaculate intonations, unsullied pronunciations and the quintessential lilts in the driver's voice made me sit back, relax and just simply listen. I could hear the music in his voice, but the words made no sense to me. I just wanted him to keep talking.

But my moment was short-lived. The driver took a hard left turn and suddenly from the extreme right lane he delivered us to the extreme left lane of the road, amidst heavy traffic conditions. All this, while relying entirely on the horn of his cab. This might've been only a minor alarm in the past. But country living in Florida has slowed me down. All the cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes on the road flew by us, providing perfect examples of the doppler effect. In case you don't know about it, it's usually the last sound you hear before dying a terrible death in a road accident. My stress shock response went berserk as I held up my seat, the seat belt, the handle on top of the door, the door, the dashboard and anything I could grab. I might've conjured extra hands to hold on to additional frame of references as the car swerved to what appeared to be the absolute end of me.

Photo Courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gflam/15161833813

But it wasn't. Instead, the driver simply rolled down his window and unleashed a sampling of his choicest cuss words on the truck driver who was racing alongside us. The contender of the finest doppler effect ever produced in my ear. My driver turned to me and smiled through his tobacco-stained teeth.

"Radio sunenge?" asked he casually, if I wanted to listen to the radio.
"Umm.. nahi.. bhaiya, aap mujhe yahi pe utaar dijiye.." I asked him to drop me somewhere. I was too spooked by that unusually hard left turn.
"Arrey, kya baat kar rahe hain?! Aapko toh hum aapke bedroom tak chhor aayenge! RK Puram jaana hai na? Bas aap baithke gaana enjoy kijiye!" he advised, and offered to drop me directly into my bedroom instead.

I gulped, offered a smile, and prayed the rest of the way. The atheist inside me hated me so much but screw him, because I love my life and if a little theological placation saves my life then so be it. I have a special relationship with cab drivers. I always manage to attract the most eccentric characters! There are, at least a handful of amusing cab-driver related posts on my blog. Alas, I don't have time to sort them out for you for a repeated reading.

So long suckers, until next time!

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