Sunday, September 9, 2012

in the car

(video from a different trip)
"Is this Andheri?"
"No, sir, this  is called Jogeshweri, sir. We are on the Western Express Highway."
"Sir" picks up the map laying on the floor of the car between him and the driver and looks at it until he sees where Jogeshweri is located and comprehends where they are.  He puts the map back down and resumes watching the surroundings as they travel along.

Today there seems to be mostly a comfortable silence within the car, briefly interrupted by short exchanges between the two of them, or even less often a comment from "madam" in the back seat. Sir usually sits in the front, next to the driver. It began because he wanted to get a sense of the topography and where in this mega-city they are. The map on the floor is part of that. He has begun to learn some of the main roads that they traverse fairly often, but they've only been on this part of the Western Express Highway once before when they went to the national park, so he's looking at the map again. Madam has mentioned that she likes it when he sits in the front, and he thinks Rakesh, the driver, does as well, though they have never really talked about it. Many days they chat amiably about the weather, the traffic, or the passing sights. Rakesh often identifies interesting points as they go, and sir or madam ask questions about what they see, but today all three seem content to ride quietly.

Of course, it is not really quiet in the car.  The horns of the trucks, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws and other cars around them mix with the growl of the diesel engine as it slows and speeds up to avoid collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, occasional animals, potholes, and the annoying speed arrester bumps that seem to have no logic to their location.

Sir hasn't quite figured out the logic of the red lights either.  Sometimes the driver and the other vehicles around stop when they see a red light, but often they sail on through. He thinks it may have something to do with whether there is much traffic on the cross street or not, but sometimes that doesn't seem to matter much either.  Rakesh is adept at weaving his way through the streets, passing slower creatures, especially the auto-rickshaws, on either side then easing in front of them when the roads is narrowed again by a pothole, garbage pile, or illegal shack protruding into the roadway. Madam is amazed at they way he slips the fairly large SUV into narrow spaces with just inches to spare on all sides.

They continue on, each lost in their own thoughts.

After they turn off the main road, Rakesh stops by the side of the road for a short consultation with a rickshaw walla to ensure that they are in the right area, and they find the house of their friend. Madam and sir descend from their chariot.

"Thank you, Rakesh. We'll call you in a couple of hours"

"Yes, sir. Of course sir"

We are very lucky to have Rakesh as our driver. I wrote this to try and capture what it is like to travel around town with him. He calls us "sir" and "madam".

1 comment:

  1. Sir, I appreciate your skilled writing as I am able to create a vivid picture in my head of your expedition. Best to you and Madam.