Mum and I dissect the world over our morning cuppa, and it mostly leads us down memory lane. This morning, I was recounting the story of Bunty, of the sardaarni fame, and went on to describe the rest of his conversation.
Now, the guy doesn’t seem to have travelled a great deal, so is forgivably unaware of the housing sitch in aamchi Mumbai. After the exhortations about my definite Punjabi origins subsided, he started talking to me about Mumbai. And how he wanted to find a job there, in someone’s kothi [bungalow/house/mansion], and settle down to a steady job there.
I felt a stab of sympathy for the guy, because he was currently working with an event management company cum tour operator, by the sound of it. And there were times he had to drive off to far off locales for sightseeing, with a group and so on. Can’t be easy to have that sort of lifestyle. But then again, being a personal driver in Mumbai is no cakewalk either.
So I started telling him, first, that Mumbai doesn’t really have houses. There are the affluent sector that do have sprawling residences, but those are very much in the minority. The very affluent also live in apartments. He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around this fact.
Then I explained that Mumbai is a tiny city. It is the traffic that makes it torturous to traverse. 15 km in any other Indian city would not take an hour or thereabouts.
Finally, I gently described the kind of lifestyle that Mumbai people lead; especially those with personal drivers. There is a lot of late nights for party-going young people, and early starts by business-running parents. Possibly sometimes even overlapping. He was unfazed by this aspect though, credit to him, although the other bits kind of dampened his spirit. Poor chap.
The funny thing is, and I didn’t immediately remember this, this isn’t the first time a taxi driver has asked me to find him a job. My mother remembered it. She recalled me recounting an interesting episode with a rickshaw driver in Pune, who was absolutely convinced I was a TV serial actress, and asked me to place him in the industry as something. I, of course, was and am completely incapable of doing any such thing, seeing as I am as removed from the acting profession as is possible.
I am not entirely sure why people tell me these things. I hitherto assumed that they must have these conversations with any congenial passenger. Until, one of my friends made the following comment, albeit in a different context: “Karishma, you really bring this sort of thing on yourself!” [Next post.]