It’s been a couple of weeks since I shifted to Bangalore, and whenever someone asks me how’s the place, I respond with an automated message, “oh it’s great, except for the traffic that makes you suicidal.” If you’re someone who loves driving like me, you’d understand what I mean. It’s the kind of town when you tune into radio while driving to work, and the RJ says, “I’m giving up my daily samachaar at 08:08AM to warn you people not to go to work in case you haven’t started yet. The entire city’s traffic situation is satya-naas.” Could you ask for a brighter morning?
However, this sob story is all too well known to everyone. Being the optimist that I am, I try to find a silver lining in any situation that gets thrown in front of me. New company delays joining – I get more time with my wife. Mother cites aadi maasam sentiment to not move into new house – we invite ourselves to friend’s place for a month to party hard. Car’s gone in for service – let’s pick up an Uber pool to commute.
So that’s how I unassumingly hired an Uber pool last evening to go from the KR puram tin-factory area to Trident Hyundai’s showroom on the intermediate ring road off the Domlur flyover to pickup my car from service. I was logical enough to cross the road so that I’d be in the direction in which I need to commute, got into the cab. The cab driver, Suresh, was a very well mannered person (judgmental assumption from one gentleman to another), and addressed me “Sir” at every conversation, and we start talking about traffic related stuff.
Fifteen minutes later we’ve crossed a whole fifty meters in the evening traffic, and he’s excited to see another passenger whom Uber matched. I was all too happy, to think that I might get to travel along with interesting people, pick up a conversation perhaps and forget about the bangalore traffic (or about the overcharging that the service centre is going to do). So he accepts the co-passenger(s): they’ve marked their pin at RMZ infinity, and we were bang opposite (at the fag end of Gopalan Mall on Old Madras Road). I asked him if he could please request them to cross the road and get into the car, as a couple of U-turns would mean we lose another half an hour. I mentioned that I had also crossed the road to get into the cab as I knew which direction I needed to go. He turns to me, and I quote him: “Sir, aap jaisa log sochte nahin hain. Dekhiye, yeh log faltu mein drama karenge.” He very politely explained to them over the phone, that he’s across the road, he accurately gave the cab’s position so that they can locate it, and the ladies agreed to cross. Five minutes later he gets an angry call from one of them yelling, “paagal ho kya? Kitna chalke aana padega?” He still keeps his calm and gives me an I told you so kind of look and tells me, “Dekhiye Sir, drama shuru ho gaya.”
And enter two young girls, and I presumed they work at EY, looking at the ID-tag on one of their necks. One of the passengers was Megha (who was very calm and coy), and I don’t know the name of the other – she didn’t bother with pleasantries (let’s call her UNK_GRL). They stormed into the car – the UNK_GRL turns to Suresh and yells that they had to walk a whole kilometer and the car was too far away, and if he couldn’t explain directions properly he should have taken a U-turn and come to pick them up from the building – even better the reception (I’m sure if possible, she would have wanted him to directly pick her up from her work desk). I can testify that the location they had dropped the pin was bang opposite where our car was located, and after getting into the car she says that they were beyond the Gopalan mall, and had to traverse the entire length of the mall. I kept quiet for not wanting to lose my mind, but just wanted to tell the UNK_GRL that if she’s so particular on people being clear, she must have known better to mark the fucking pin in the uber app. And I just wonder what achievement makes her feel so superior that she’s better than the cab driver. He’s doing his job: one doesn’t need to appreciate him, but could at least be polite to fellow human beings – the cab driver and the darned co-passenger. But I must be grateful that at least they didn’t ask me to get out and sit in the front seat. And before Suresh could respond to her accusations, she turns behind and says, “you know what Megha, just leave it! I don’t want to end my day like this.”
And begins the journey. We’re all on the phone, and Suresh turns on music to avoid any more accusations and drives away peacefully. Every now and then there are random conversations between the two on what to cook, about the traffic, about a random test UNK_GRL needs to take the following day quoting how stupid her employers are, about small gallis and how she wouldn’t know alternate routes to her destination because they were in tiny roads. The irony was that eventually their drop point was in the middle of a heavily congested locality filled with tiny roads. I mean, what the hell is all that fuss about. And finally they pay Rs. 32 for the shared ride and get off. THIRTY-TWO RUPEES. That’s it, and she acted as if she owned the darn car and as if Suresh was her slave imported from some other land.
I just sighed, “all this fuss for thirty-two rupees!” Suresh turns to me, he says, “Sir, I told you, right! This is pretty much how most of my customers are. What would UNK_GRL be earning? 40-50k per month? I hold a fleet of four cars I own. I got three other drivers who work, and in net profits (after deducting operating costs) I make approximately 2.6 lakhs every month. Sometimes I wonder why I need to put up with such people, but of course, I can take off whenever I feel like it.” He also tried to stereotype North Indians as being crass (I didon’t agree with his sentiment), but anyway that was his point of view. I just passed a judgmental joke or two about UNK_GRL (my bad), and we shared a hearty laugh.
That was the last of the conversation about them. We continued talking about more relevant things – some philosophical, some about current affairs, minimal about Bangalore traffic, and I even found out a place that’s better for car servicing, etc., and possibly made a very resourceful friend. After all, you meet people to enrich your lives, right?