Thursday, May 7, 2009

All in a day's ride.

98% of them are crooks, 2% of them are ordinary people like you n me, eking out a living the way they know to. Am talking about auto drivers.

However, coming across the rare 2% is a pleasure. Once in a while I get into these conversations too- manage to have one would be a better way to say it- what with Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, English, hands, eyes all being called into service.

One of them made me feel ashamed of myself when he told me in Malayalam that he had only been 3 months in Kerala and he had picked up the language, while I had been here 7 yrs and was not yet fluent. And when I started off in Hindi to converse better, he told me "Illa, neevu kannadaleye mathaadu, athe channagide." (No, you speak in Kannada only, that's better)I don't know whether that was a reflection on my Hindi (sic) or whether he wanted me to use Kannada, but anyway, we spoke in Kannada the rest of the trip.

However the guy I met this afternoon takes the cake. We had just started off after I had given my destination, when he asked me a long sentence in Kannada, of which I only caught something that sounded like Obama.
Errr... what? I asked with a polite smile.

Only to sit back in wonder when he repeated
"Madam, will Obama stop all our software jobs? What does he plan to do?"
"Errr.... Errr....!!!!

The second question was a little too deep for the likes of me, but I attempted to answer the first.
"He won't stop it totally, but he sure means to bring it down"

And then followed a nightmare of explaining to him that Obama wanted to levy tax on all those companies that continued to outsource their job requirements from India.
Nightmare, because, it was difficult to explain in Kannada/Hindi what I had read in the newspaper yesterday. (Yes, Dad/husband, I actually knew what he was asking and moreover, enough to answer him as well!)

What compounded the matter was that he asked me questions on my answers! Answers made in Kanhinglish. So that I was confused as to what I had conveyed, what he had understood and what more he wanted to know. Phew!

He was actually a young boy- maybe some 20- 22 yrs old. What he told me with a disarming smile at the end of our conversation was, "You see, Madam, our livelihood depends on the software industry. If software suffers, we suffer. It has brought money into our city. I take so many software people all around the city...now this Obama is going to make life difficult for us."

I smiled at him reassuringly, but then hastened to inform him that I was not from the software industry as I did not want to get fleeced.

We sat in a companionable silence, then he asked me " Nimmege kannada baralla?" Now it didn't take an Obama to realise that, but I smiled and said, "Not much, I'm basically from Kerala."

"Aaah! Kerala! You must be very educated??"
"Errr...."

"All people in Kerala are very educated." He answered the quesion himself. "They put a great premium on education, right?"
"Right," I answered.

"They are very rich also in Kerala, right, Madam?"
"Errr.. "

"I have been there some time back- to the wedding of a muslim friend of mine. These muslims have lots of money." and he looked back at me for confirmation.
"Ummmmmm...yes, Gulf money exists, but there are quite a lot of ordinary folks as well in Kerala"

He pooh-poohed my remark. "100 kilos of gold is what that bride had on. I couldn't see any clothes at all, only gold"
I smiled. "Yeah, they do wear a lot of gold in Kerala."
He smiled back at me in camaraderie.

And we had reached. He was an honest driver, with an honest meter too, he only took the correct fare. But I tipped him 8/- (change) for the conversation.

From Obama to the Bangalore economy to the Kerala economy...phew!
However one MUST count one's blessings. Thank God he didn't ask me about the elections and the chances of leadership in our country. I'll take Obama any day to THAT.

6 comments:

Artnavy said...

so nice to meet an auto guy of this sort- in chennai it is almost impossible

workhard said...

Yeah.. sometimes these guys have such intelligent questions..

Haiku Poems

Smitha said...

Wow! That was a very informed autodriver! I have had some wonderful conversations with autodrivers too - but only in Bangalore.. somehow autodriver exp in other parts of India has not been so nice..
And another thing I noticed is - that IT's fortunes does percolate down to every level doesn't it..
By the way, your header is fantasic! Do you make them yourself?

Noodlehead said...

ahhh! auto drivers provide lovely entertainment....some are creepy too. i once encountered one who knew where i used to work earlier and was asking probin questions on my marital status!!! i know, the cheek! i got down about a block away from my house and wlaked in the opposite direction lest he find out where i lived...shudder!

Scattered Thoughts... said...

hah.. you too.. I also love initiating a conversation with auto valahs, taxi drivers, the road side thela valas when having pani puri or some thing and what not.. and once a taxi valah on delhi airport described me his journey from scratch and made me almost embarrassed when I figured out he earns almost equal money as I do :)) and he has a paternal land in gurgaon valuing some odd 1 crore which he does not want to touch :))

all in a day of work :))

Suma said...

onceyes once in while, you do get to meet a few who change your perception! the other night, we met a cab fellow who talked the whole half hour continuously and he knew a LOT about Singapore...