Taxi No. 9211

Posted by Vinti Narula
August 20, 2017

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Travel and stories have long been partners in crime ~ adding colour to the otherwise routinised monochromatic human lives, since (I would like to believe) the birth of the locomotive engine. Train journeys spent day-dreaming while gazing outside the window or befriending strangers and exchanging life notes has formed the backdrop of many a classics and great adventure tales. But the humble daily mode of transport more often than not misses the spotlight it deserves.

While on the backseat of an auto or cab, I have often thought about the colourful bouquet of vignettes that are created over those early morning before meeting rides to the metro station, over frustrated day end pickups from offices, over heartbreaking drop-offs to divorce case hearings at the court or over joyous new beginning pickups from the hospital.

My perennial muse Bollywood lends me a brilliant scene (yet again) from the movie ‘Tamasha’, where an estranged Ved (Ranbir Kapoor), in conflict with his identity and the rejected love of Tara (Deepika Padukone), finds solace and answers in a conversation with an auto-wallah. He asks the auto-wallah humming away to glory if he wanted to become an actor; in a moment of delightful candour, the auto-wallah ends up narrating his tale of star singing back in Allahabad and shattered dreams of making it big in Bollywood when ‘life’ hit him in the form of running a household, wife and children.

I too have had my fair share of interesting anecdotes, with front-seat cab rides, constant flipping of radio stations and finding that one song that the cab-wallah and me end up humming together ‘maana janaab ne pukaara nahin’ (Kishore da’s magic); of funny navigations following Google maps, opinion discussions over the odd-even rule, religious tolerance and demonetisation; and even education counselling for an auto-wallah’s daughter (explaining what MDI and MBA are).

I am however self-critical of viewing the world overtly through rose-tinted glasses. So am I throwing caution to the wind? Am I ignoring the notoriety accompanying cab/auto rides today? No! But I am emphasising the pursuit of that charming thing that travel does, to elongate time enough to bridge the gap for development of a human bond. Believe it or not, I have found great advice, tummy-tickling laughter, and heck even insights for a job-related GD over a cab/auto ride! Would you care to give it a try?

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