Sex, Sena and CST: Encounter With The Most Incredible Cab Driver Ever
Mumbai is the city of dreams, you’ll hear many stories of people coming with just ten rupees in their pockets and making a fortune. My story was just the opposite, I had come to the city with a mini fortune and now, if I missed the departing train from the city, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it again, at least not with dignity intact. Don’t worry I’ve stocked enough Chetan Bhagat, for that specific purpose, if I’m ever short of money I should have something to sell on streets (other than my orifices). But yeah, I didn’t want to mess this up.
The train was at 21:50, So I called the cab two hours before-time at 19:50. The cab driver in the pic looked like profile pics of cab drivers usually do, like they know someone that has executed an honor killing. Even when he called he’d be slightly late coz he’s taken a stop for tea, it seemed in character which is why I was so taken aback when the driver actually arrived. He was properly groomed. I mean, PROPERLY groomed. This man must have worked hard for two days to pay for his hair and then two more days to get his beard done. Also, he had an iPhone7. This was so opposite to Tinder, I had to ask how??
How could a person look so plain on the profile-pic be so radically different in real life? He answered, two reasons; One was plain — the pic was taken at the end of the day long verification process; the Second one was probably the most interesting one I’ve heard,”Friday-Saturday-Sunday ko item log aata hai.” (Translation: Friday-Saturday-Sundays are the days girls show up.) I asked what did he mean, he explained that weekends are the times when parties happen most and when he’s dressed well, girls ask him to come home. Then the conversation went to where I was from, how was it compared to Mumbai, then randomly he says, Kerala is the worst, nobody speaks Hindi there. I asked him if he has relatives in Kerala, he said he gets asked regularly by girls to accompany him to Kerala for the weekend and just last week, another girl had asked him if he’s interested in the Kerala trip. I asked what was so special about Kerala? He says, “These rich people want to do it in the pool, under the waterfall, wherever they want. Theek hai mere baap ka kya jaata hain. (English: Go ahead, knock yourself out) As long as they’re paying me. I ask them to compensate for a day’s loss of earning and they do, for two days. I get to travel, drink, stay at a resort, have fun and get paid for it.” He seemed proud of earning more than what people who worked IT companies did and getting perks none of them did.
This was exactly opposite to the driver from whom I had first heard of the phenomenon of horny passengers. He was an Auto driver, he was sad that the number of people asking for longer rides were declining because of the apps and sadder that number of horny passengers remained constant. In fact, he told me he had gotten rid of the curtains (for rain protection) from his vehicle because some passengers got too comfortable with him when the curtains were down.
Midway, the routes had to be changed coz of traffic and I realized the cab fare would go past what I had in my wallet, so I started searching for ATM. He calmed me down, said it’ll be wise if we reached the station first and then withdraw the money, it made sense, so we continued on the route.
“Once I did this chick from Hong Kong. Then there are housewives, they are the craziest. Sometimes, their husband calls in and tells that he’ll be out for two days, they ask me to stay for two days and I tell at home I’ll be in Nashik for two days. You couldn’t have guessed it from their demeanor at first, but two drinks down and they show you what they’ve been hiding.”
For some reason, the last phrase made him philosophical and he started speaking about illusions.
“Mumbai is Mayanagari (City of Illusions), nobody is what they seem to be (Tell me about it). All the stars you see who pretend to be the most righteous ones. I’ve seen them puking, lying on roads drunk near Juhu. You see, Saturdays evenings, near Juhu, in front of Novotel, you can get charas-ganja, anything. Then the party and other stuff happens in till midnight and then they venture out at 2am. Saw an actress puking on the beach with two people accompanying her.”
At this point we were entering the Sea Link, for some reason, I thought I should ask him where he sees himself heading in life. He said after he’s done driving he wants to get into garments business, which was again completely opposite to what another driver told me. When I first came to Mumbai, I was intimidated by this place, so while traveling in Autos, I often used to ask drivers how they did they come to terms with life in Mumbai? One Auto drivers talked about his life of having 3 brothers and 3 sisters (mind-boggling number, still find it hard to believe), things were bad enough that he left home and ended up in Mumbai. He worked hard, got his sisters married and opening a garment store in Hyderabad for his brothers. After he was done with the garment store he returned back to driving. Back in the cab, we were done with the Sea Link and along with the road, our conversation too took a very steep turn.
“People running by the edge of a water body, is this Marine Drive?”
“No, it isn’t. there were plans for a similar bridge to be built there, but who knows how long that’ll take, this is one got made coz it had the blessings of Balasaheb Thakre.”
Ooh! Bala ‘Saheb’ Thakre, so he was a supporter of Shiv Sena (Congress supporters go Soniaji and BJP supporters go Modiji). Until now, I’ve heard about Mr.Thakre only from the people in the studios, never from the people on the ground, what did he mean for them? Why did they like him so much? What did they think of his methods? What does he think about Raj Thakre? There were lots of jams and he had lots to talk.
“If it weren’t for Balasaheb Thakre, Mumbai would’ve gone to the Muslims.The breaking of mosques coz of his volunteers only*. When Balasaheb Thakre died, there’s a family in Andheri, I have personally seen them put up a pic of him and cry in front it. The family claimed they were alive because of Balasaheb Thakre’s intervention. There’d be no person like him in future. Take all the national politicians, their influence is concentrated mostly in India, but there’s a Shiv Sena branch in Nepal too. When he died, the whole city of Mumbai was closed except for three things Milk Shops, Chemists, and Five Star Hotels. That was for foreigners but even that was limited, the five-star hotels were allowed to only pick and drop, otherwise everything was shut down.”
For the first time, I was slightly disappointed by the cabbie coz he had a very mainstream prejudice. Drivers I’ve come across some really eccentric prejudices, there was one tempo driver who was helping me move, when we passed over Kokilaben Hospital, he vented on how it is run by the evil Gujaratis. He had a joke for it,“ What’s the difference between a Gujarati Businessman and a Marwari Businessman? A Marwari Businessman cons only the rich people.”
Back in the cab, I couldn’t stay disappointed for long coz driver had moved on to describe Raj Thakre, “He’s an idiot. if only he had stayed in Shiv Sena, this Congress-BJP nobody would’ve stood a chance. He needs booze… women, every single day, wakes up at 2:00 pm. Is this going to win you crowds? He talks down to his own people, I say talk however you wish with the others, but at least treat your own people well!! Balasaheb Thakre used to greet his bodyguards warmly, even offer them seats to make themselves comfortable. Raj Thakre makes his own people leave the party, there was this guy named Raj Kadam, he was the mastermind behind Navnirman Sena. His reputation was such that, no matter which he party he stood from, Raj Kadam won the elections. But Raj Thakre fought with him too. Even Udhhav Thakre is like that, he doesn’t ask about his bodyguards at all, these people guard him day and night and you don’t ask about them. Aditya Thakre, at least, asks his guards if they’ve had food or water, but he’s no Balasaheb Thakre. There can’t be another person like him.”
This conversation was paused for a while as we passed a unique place on the Grant Road and he wanted to talk about it.
“Yahaa pe chor bazaar lagta hai. Aapke paas dekhne ka time ho toh yahan pe jo chahiye woh milega. Raat 2–3 baje shuru hota hai, subah 6 baje, suraj chadhte hi sab bandh.” (English Translation: This is the Stolen Goods Bazaar. You’ll get anything you want if you have time to look for it. Opens at night 2:00 am, closes as soon as the sun rises at 6:00am.)”
“Exactly, opposite to the usual shops. ”
A bit later, he comes up with another interesting tidbit, “This is Dongri, Dawood Ibrahim’s area, it’s here was born and grew up. He’s in Pakistan but recently his wife and children had returned, nobody dared touch them.” It was interesting how he combined the current topic with the earlier topic of Bal Thakre, “When Balasaheb Thakre died, some people of Dongri rebelled by refusing to observe refused to observe the Bandh (The Shutdown) but then some men arrived and they had to shut down.” For some reason, then the driver went, “Pyaar kabhi nahi karne ka.”(English Translation: Never fall in love.)
I was bit taken aback by that piece of advice. Now this guy would, of course, advise against falling in love it completely goes against his way of living but it seemed like this advice was coming from the place of pain.
“Kuchh hua tha kya?” (English Translation: Did something happen?).
“Yeh jo bhi ladki log ke saath hota hain woh sab temporary hain. Aaj kiya kal bhool jaane ka. Dekho, ab tak paanch mahina hua gaadi chalaate-chalaate, ek pachaas-sau toh aurat toh liya hoyega, gaadi se. Mera khud ke time pe alag.” (English Translation: The stuff that happens with these women is temporary. It’s been five months since I’ve been driving and have been with 50–100 women so far apart from the women I hit-on in the leisure time.)
“Ek minute!! Ek minute!!” (English Translation: Wait for Whaaaaa…..)
I had to stop him here, I would’ve liked to hear about what his first love was like and how it influenced him, but fifty-hundred women in five months? Surely, he must’ve been boasting, but that too apart from the ones he hit on and succeeded?? I just needed a break to breathe. After I regained composure, I remember he said something about these things being temporary, so I asked if he was looking for anything long-term.
“Toh fir long-term ke liye kuchh dhund rahe ho kya?” (English Translation: Are you searching for something long-term.)
“Woh uske liye ghar mein ek biwi hain na.”, he said with huge smile. (English Translation: No, for that I have a wife at home.)
I couldn’t help but laugh on that nugget of information, couldn’t dwell much on it though I noticed the time and damn! It was 21:38 pm. Only 12 minutes to reach CST, find an ATM to pay the fares, spot the platform, find the train and climb into it.
Now every traffic jam felt like an eternity and I was getting on the edge of my seat, the driver was pointing towards the temples of Kalpa Devi and Mumba Devi, after whom the city was named Mumbai, but I wasn’t interested in it. My brain was trying to calm me down, “Relax! It’s not as if you’re missing a train… Damn!!”. It was 21:42, we reached the station, but we didn’t find any ATM, so the driver didn’t stop, he said, there will be many ATMs on the way to the other side of the station and just like that I could see the entrance of the CST receding from the view.
He said there will be lots of ATMs on the way, we couldn’t spot a single ATM on the way, it was 21:45 pm. We were entering the station and there was still no ATM in sight. I was trying to offer online payment, he said that’s not possible, that option has to be decided in advance. By this time, the cab’s fare had surpassed what the train’s fare was, if I miss the train, I’d have paid for two train journeys and have reached nowhere. But we spotted an ATM at a corner, I jumped out of the car, asked the cabbie to get the luggage out of the dickey while I withdraw the money and pay him the fares. There was an old person in the ATM who was finding it hard to withdraw money, I had no time, so I barged in asked if I can help him to it. He allowed me to. While doing so, I noticed the clock was 21:46pm, the machine spit out my money too. I gave the money to the cabbie and told him to keep the change, it killed me a little inside to behave like a rich person when I was not but had to coz there was no time, like a rich person. I left with the luggage and noticed there was X-ray machine it had to go through. Maybe I was visibly stressed while loading the luggage on the conveyor belt, a cop arrived and talks to me, “Tu tension kaiko le raha hai, kaunsa train hai tera?… achha woh, woh toh saamne hi hai. Aaram se pohoch jaayega.” (English Translation: Why are you so stressed out? What train are you trying to board? Oh, that! That’s right there. Relax, you’ll catch it.) While the cop was calming me down, I noticed the phone was vibrating, it probably was my parents who had called to ask if I had boarded the train and If I picked the call I’d miss the train, so I chose to ignore it. I picked the luggage up and finally caught the train, only to realize, I had forgotten my laptop in the cab. The earlier vibrating of the phone might have been something else, I picked up to see it, Cab driver had called me 5 times. It was 21:48 pm, I stepped out of the train, now if I missed it, I’d miss my train and the luggage, but I couldn’t miss my laptop either. I noticed someone calling me out.
It was a person in yellow-black taxi driver uniform, soon I was also called by another one. I noticed my cab driver too, he was holding the laptop bag. It seems he had organized three taxi drivers to look around and then found me, with a minute to go. And I made it to my place just in time to feel — Phew!
Now I realize, lots of problems here are of my own doing, I could’ve avoided a lot of problems had I been more careful, in life, like having more money in the wallet and in the account (I’d still be in Mumbai). I might have been leaving Mumbai poorer than when I had come but knowing a Cab driver who had an iPhone 7; was a casanova; and a Shiv Sainik. It broke all the stereotypes of Cab Drivers, Shiv Sainiks, and Casanovas. It expanded upon the cardboard cutout stereotypes I’d get on the net. So I did arrive with a mentally famished idea of what people must be and now leaving with notions that are lot richer in detail. I guess, the tales about prosperity are really true, just not in the way I expected them to be.
[*The opinions expressed were of driver’s, may or may not be true. However, it has been included coz omitting it out felt like keeping a very crucial part of the person.]