Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Khaki tales

It’s been a loooong time and I am so relieved to be back here. Post a heavy meal, spirits are soaring and the mood is just right to blog away to my heart’s content.

A lot has happened since my last post, but the most pressing thing on my mind concerns the auto drivers of Bangalore. I deposit half my salary into my house rent, and the rest into the khaki pockets of this smart brigade. Just the thought of them raises mixed emotions. All of them seems to have passed through some finishing school, where the phrases “20 rupees extra”,” 100 rupees hoga” have been imprinted on their subconscious mind. Credit goes to them for having transformed me from a mild-mannered polite girl to a street-smart, belligerent person. Honestly, I had not realized the extent of this change until my dear mom happened to visit me in Bangalore, and an ensuing auto ride brought out my well-developed fighting skills, leaving her open-mouthed and shocked beyond words.
A few years ago, such an altercation with any person, let alone a stranger would have spoiled my mood and my day. But now I am amazed at how quickly I can transform from a hostile persona to one exuding charm as soon as the khaki has vanished. Ah, the magic of Bangalore.

But again, if it had not been for them, how would I have zipped around Bangalore, getting my things done on time. I am not the least ashamed to say that I WILL NOT drive on the streets of Bangalore. Tempt me with double the money I pay off to my driver brethren, and I will still resist. I look on with envy and admiration as those who put their lives at stake on the teeming roads every day swerve and skid and just about miraculously manage to not collide with others of their tribe and pedestrians for whom the terms footpath and road make no difference.
Thinking in this context, I must admit that the presence of auto drivers do away with a lot of discomfort, especially the one you experience at the prospects of clambering onto a BMTC bus. And they too are humans, as my mom points out. They too have dreams and ambitions, though maybe not as outrageous as mine. They have kids to send to school, unlike me. Thy have families to take care of, again unlike me. So, they too have a right to my money, as much as I do? Hey, that’s socialism, which I don’t subscribe to. And while I am not sure whether these auto drivers hold a socialist view or not, they definitely have an eye on the supposedly cash-strapped pockets of those working in the tall IT firms, which they fondly call “the Glass Houses”. If only they knew how much cash was actually left to strap to my pockets…

One day, when I become a billionaire, I vow to give every auto driver 20 rupees more than the meter fare. But till that day, I vow to keep fighting for the sake of the few rupee notes I cling onto.

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