Saturday, 5 June 2010

For forty years…

Struggling to make it to a 9.45 AM Visa interview, I was standing at the side of a busy Bombay road, looking for a three wheeled wonder called a tuktuk. If you start counting, you will soon lose count of the number of these yellow and black vehicles, buzzing past you. Whether they are ‘For Hire’ or not is a different story however. After standing for 5 minutes in the blazing sun that this part of the world is blessed with, I finally saw an empty rickshaw approaching me. I waved frantically like you’d wave at a long lost relative at the airport, coming out with a stream of people.

As I was about to sit, I noticed the driver and I wondered if I should take this ride or not. The driver was about 70 years old. His face pale and wrinkled… A turban on the head, which I thought was to save him from the heat rather than being an indication of his religious preferences.

His hands were trembling yet firm on the handle. The face had a sense of calm and serenity about it.

A few seconds passed processing these inputs and I jumped in. Earphones in my ears jammed the heavy traffic buzz and I reached in time and got off the rickshaw. The meter read an exact hundred. He returned me a rupee, as the custom/rule is, here in Bombay.

As I was about to turn, he said: “Beta, I have been driving on these roads for forty years and not once has anybody gotten late with me. I can drive on these roads in my sleep”. The confidence in his eyes was striking. “I drive not because I have to but because I love to”. At a loss of words, I could only smile. He smiled back and looking back at the Visa application center in the background, he gave me a thumbs up and zoomed ahead into the swarm of cars.