I tend to get started talking with the drivers of the auto rickshaw I commute on. I am in no way a small talker, not an extrovert. People who know me will nod their head. But sometimes; I just get started. Most of these rickshaw guys are the ones who come from other towns and villages and make a living in Bangalore. A good number of them are already prosperous and they just do this since its an easy way to earn money fleecing customers who dont speak the local language.
And I; for whatever reason dont look like one who can speak the language well. Maybe the way I dress, carry myself or whatever; I get talked to in Hindi. In fact; I have to ask them "Do you speak Kannada?" If I get the chance, I do start a conversation with them simply because it makes them feel good that there are folks who speak their language.
Two reasons for that belief. 1 - If you are a local; you dont hire auto. You take the more conventional mode of transport because you know the city well. If you take auto; thats because you dont know the language and dont want to be burdened with finding routes and asking people. You get taken for a ride; literally.
Anyway, last evening on my way to home from office; this elderly man started cribbing about the longer route I was insisting him to take. I ignored at first. He kept repeating it and that was when I had to interrupt and clarify that the route he was suggesting was 2 kms longer. That I didnt mind paying extra couple of tens; but that route has traffic standing still. Whereas the present route though seems longer, its shorter and the traffic keeps moving. He still insisted on his theory and that there was this extra U turn in my way and thats why its longer.
Well, the conversation moved on with more proofs and statistics and numbers from my side and his. He further strengthened his argument with being a local of that area for 34 years. Whereas I; said that I commute everyday and I have always found which route was better. This guy got comfortable by then. He told me about his early days - truck driver.
His children are now married; living a decent life. His eldest did masters but having his own business. His daughter also having done masters working in a bank. His son in law working in a bank as well. How his children insist him not to work; but he cant sit at home.
Throughout; I could make out the pride of a father - children having a good life. There got to a point where he was trying to portray his daughter was earning best and living best. Now I dont know why he got to even compare - with me that is. Yeah lot of auto drivers do that. The truth is; they really want to earn "like" the way computer folks earn. But knowing they dont have the chance, they make it sound like a sour grapes story.
He told me how much his daughter was earning. How she was the first to be promoted and all that. Fine! He then asked me my salary. Gasp! I did tell what it was (well; I was honest). He again asked me - is it after all the cut? What you get in hand? I said that the cut was bad; tax and all that but yes thats how much I get in my hand. Well; lets say that the number I quoted was twice as what he said his daughter was earning.
Immediately; his sour grapes strategy kicked in. He said that her daughter was also called in for job at IBM. Well people; non IT parents generation generally know Infosys and IBM. These are the greatest companies and if you are IT and dont work in one of them; you are good for nothing. Getting back to our beloved father; they decided against her working for an IT company though the salary was good for a fresher; because they demanded his daughter work night shifts.
Now; the salary he said they offered was bull shit people! I know the trends. He went on to say how her work now is good; timings good; how she gets picked up and dropped home. Now that they have a 5 upstairs building right in the heart of the city. Basically he was justifying all the reasons for not accepting the IT offer. I did laud him for taking the right decision and fed his ego a bit. But what I found amusing was this stranger was so passionate about his family and kids. He was ready to go to any length to prove his kids were the best :-)
I hope his children know how blessed they are.