Saturday, January 15, 2011
Mumbai-Taxiwalla ki Zubani
Its 8.45 pm, we are getting late for Nikita's birth day dinner, with the daily grind of life and dead lines to meet not only in office but also in hostel, life is always about walking with the clock. We finally get a new Wagon R taxi, and I sit in front as usual and Nikku and Nidhi hop in the back and we three start chatting about the latest Deol clan release, called Yamla Pagla Dewana, and I opine that its going to be one of those slap stick comedies and even though Nikku went on to press the point that its something she wants to watch, our taxi0-wala jumped in the conversation wagon saying the fourth Deol is coming now, Sunny's son and then began an amazing ride towards VT via some wrong lanes, and we were so engrossed in his conversation that we missed pizza hut twice.
The taxi wala introduces hinself as Shambhu Pandit Thakur, “Hum brahmin hai”, a brahim by caste with four sisters and four brothers, a wife, 26 year old who is ten years younger than him and a son and a daughter who stay in Muzzafarpur, Bihar, his home town. Apart from being a day corporate car driver, he drives taxi to earn those extra penny.
As I am intrigued to know about a taxi wala's life more, Thakur takes me down his life stories, he presently lives in a one room kitchen in a shanty in Colaba, he left his studies when his parents died sixteen years back during his matriculation and he landed in the then “Bombay”, the city of dreams to earn for his entire family. His elder brother works for the government in Bihar, his second brother is a permanent road contractor with the municipal corporation in Jharkhand and his younger brother has a joint business with one of his brother in laws of leather. He and his three brothers helped get his sisters married in rich families, where he says he never visits as he is not of their ranks.
Thakur says, “I had responsibilities and I could have bought a home from the money I spent on their weddings but its fine, now I am earning for my family. Infact my wife had come here but within a month she pestered me so much that I had to send her back.”
Then he talks about the cars he has driven in the swanky South Mumbai and how owners don't pay anything more than Rs 6000-8000 per month whereas they would pay more than Rs 60 lakhs to crore or two for the cars, Thakur says, “can you see that its a BMW Li 320, I have driven from Mercedes S class to BMW to Honda civic, I have worked at Sobha De's place also. But I quit her job when she took Raj Thackrey's side, she is a Maharashtrian married to a Bengali, she has one servant from Kerala one from Bihar and another Maharashtrian. When I told her madam what you said is not correct she told me Shambhu bahar alag dikhana padhta hai, thats when I left her job. Yahan majduron ka shoshan hota hai.”
After that now I am working for a corporate guy he is a lech, an aunt and cousin of that guy was in town for match making and the girl was very nice she is studying engineering or MBA in Orissa, but the groom's side said they will need time to get back, so the mother was crying all the way to the airport. I stopped at Prabhadevi at a restaurant and told her, , “madam, aapkey beti key paas jo sanskar hai, who mumbai mey nah chalta, yahan jo daru nahi piye, raat bhar club na jaye toh compatible partner nahi kaha jata, aapki beti bahut achi hai is kachrey mey na bhejey”
By now I realised that I missed the lane of Sterling and we are back again at Fort, then he adds, you all are not from Mumbai, because they don't talk to taxiwallas, they live in different planet altogether.
Then I started grilling him about the money that he earns while driving taxi at night, and he says, even though I am not feeling well, I thought of driving today as I need it but I will wrap up early today. Its a 50:50 profit sharing between the taxi owner and the driver. Each taxi is given to a driver for 12 hours and he has to fuel the car for around Rs 500 in a day, and after that some rs 1200 is still left which is then divided. The taxi owner also fuels the car most of the times.