At the end of a rainbow

Lucy found her diamond sky

Through the looking glass

on November 17, 2012

I couldn’t resist putting up a reflective piece written by a special someone to cheer me up on a day I had decided to be the grinch.

“I have had plenty of conversations with cab/auto drivers. The most recent one occurred around the time when the Auto and Cab union leaders were threatening of a strike unless the base fare for both means of public transport was revised. An increase in base fare, would ensure that the average (the definition of this term is quite different from what you or I think) cabwalaa would make a decent 5.56 to 6 lakhs per year and the autowalaa would end up with a respectable figure between 3 and 3.5 lpa. NON-TAXABLE!!!

Yours truly, quite expectedly went hyper on reading this in the newspapers. The figures seemed to suggest that all the opting-for-stateboard-cum-IIT-coaching and dropping-a-year-to-once-again-land-in-bird-droppings*^* had ensured that I end up with an income lesser than the “ferrymen of the roads”. To rub it in a little more my income is TAXABLE.

*^*taking college names can be harmful; case in the point a certain B-school run by a pony-tail sporting p(h)ony and self-proclaimed management-guru

So, here I was chatting with the gentlemen behind the wheel of a shiny kali-peeli maruti Alto on my way to CST from marine drive. While negotiating the fare, he sprinkled his sentences with oft-used phrases like mehangai, bade-saab, computer-company which ensured that my blood pressure rose steadily and patience was severely afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. The aforementioned newspaper report also came to mind and very casually, I apprised him of the fact that he probably earned more than me. Unlike my response, he didn’t react with anger, or antipathy. Instead he just gave me a wry smile. For some time, we didn’t speak and then he told me that the taxi wasn’t licensed to him. He was an immigrant from UP and that Bombay is one place where procuring a permit to run and Auto/taxi is next to impossible. Especially, if one is coming from the north. Only, the old taxi-walaas (the ones who drive old fiats) have individual licenses handed down through generations. New license(s) are issued to people with clout in the union. Half his earnings every day went to the guy who ‘owned’ the taxi and remaining he could take home. On days when he is unlucky, a random beat cop makes him part with his share of earnings, because the ‘owner’ of the taxi doesn’t let him carry papers of the vehicle, fearing that he may run away with it. The taxi’s owner had several licenses in his name and consequently, earned enough sub-letting them to other people like our immigrant friend.

Khaane-peene aur kholi ka kharcha nikal jaata hai saab. Strike pe nahin jaana chahata hum, lekin agar gaadi chalayega to union ka log, tod-phod karega” . Just a tinge of sadness and frustration laced his voice when he said this. But his eyes lit up as he continued “jo bachega , use gaon lekar chala jaaoonga kuch saalon mein
Two frustrated people in the cab that day in the heart of ‘maximum city’ and we know who had the bigger heart. I am sure there are days when, like me, he too gives in to his emotions and feel miserable. But, he learned to look at the brighter side of things and I to count my blessings. After all, it is a happy heart that makes life worthwhile. “

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