The daily death drive
The other day I was listening to the radio. I loved listening to it when there used to be less RJ's and more songs. Nevertheless, these interactive formats on radios allow you to know about the new happenings. There is this new author called Hywel Pinto who was being interviewed on the radio for his upcoming book 'Ice Bound'. He was asked about the traffic in Mumbai and he said something which I can relate to. He said the traffic in Mumbai might be tiresome at times, but it gives a buffer time to writers and the travelling time could help them get some inspiration as they would think that time, having nothing else to do.
I take an auto to work every day. If you have ever travelled by an auto in Mumbai, you would definitely be able to relate to me if I say that the autowallahs fly and not drive their autos. I have been thinking about my blog posts while travelling and thought about writing this one too in one of these autos. I was waiting for an auto for a long time after leaving from work. These autowallahs show a lot of attitude and say no to you in the most annoying way if they feel that your destination is not on their way. According to the laws, they are supposed to take you wherever you want, which I don’t think they even know. After a lot of cocky "no's", one of them agreed to drive me home.
As soon as I sat, he asked me something which was not only unintelligible but also difficult to listen to as the radio was playing really loudly in the auto. This guy was bald except for a tiny ponytail in the middle of his head. Priests keep such hairdos in India mostly, but he didn't look like one. There are many other reasons a man might go bald, but I am not getting into that. So instead of trying to decipher what he was saying, I simply said, "Mujhe Marathi nahi aati"(I dont understand/speak Marathi). He gave me a crooked smile and said, "Par maine toh Hindi main bola"(I said in Hindi). I asked him defeatedly, "Kya bol rahe ho? Please dheere dheere bolo"(Please speak slowly) He asked me if I wanted to go from the Irla bridge. I was so tired straining to hear him due to the noise on the roads and his loud speaker that I simply nodded.
He started the auto. In less than a minute I was trying hard not to be flung outside of the auto as he was taking sharp turns and driving like a maniac. I was relieved that at least he wasn't talking to me, when he asked me, "Aap yahan ke nahi ho na?"(You are not from Mumbai, are you?) I replied an affirmative. He again asked, "Kahan se ho aap?" (Where are you from?) I replied, "Gujarat". He smirked like a fool and went back to his bozo driving.
We came at the crossroads and he halted till the light turns green. The heavy traffic in this city makes you observant. I see a guy on a bike in front of me. He gets up from the seat of the bike and stretches his body/bum. I laugh. The auto guy looks at me from the rear-view and smirks thinking I am crazy. I stop laughing. The lights turn green; I am going back to the tense I was using. (just felt like writing in present continuous)
So he started the auto with a big jerk. He accelerated like crazy and as I had expected had to break with a jerk again. I was thrown in front and then he had steered right, so I kind of fell out of the auto, but I caught hold of the back seat rod. He saw what happened for a second and then when it registered in his mind he started laughing. I was mad angry and had also hurt myself a little on the elbow, still I couldn’t help but laugh myself. The autowallah asked me if I was hurt once he had his laugh. I told him seriously that he should have been more careful and if he wants to drive like that he needs to get seatbelts in his auto. He replied, “Chalega madam, wese bhi yeah bheed main aap girte toh bhi kahan?” (Let it be, as anyway you wouldn’t fall out as there is no space due to the traffic jam)I didn’t say anything as I really hated this annoying autowallah who clearly was also arrogant, careless and creepy. But I thought to myself that these guys are so bored with Mumbai traffic, which is my buffer time to think useless/interesting things, that they don’t care about meeting with accidents or even hurting someone badly. Maybe they are so frustrated that they might just die while driving their autos rather than manoeuvring through the Mumbai traffic every day. I understand this as I like to get into peoples shoes and think like them, but what about the passengers like me?