Friday, November 20, 2015

Swanky Rick Driver

Whats with me getting into conversation with auto rickshaw drivers? Most times it starts with me being empathetic with their everyday "struggle" in life to earn few hundreds while its as easy as "signing few papers" for office goers. I pass a word or two about how tough life has become and I totally understand and agree its doubly unfair on them. Well, its a win win. I get to travel in peace for the rest of the journey and their ego gets satisfied. 

But there are times when I get to bear the brunt of being a listener. 2 days ago; I hired an auto and the driver looked hip; with an ear stud, a partial mohawk, designer beard and jeans. It was raining and bad traffic jam. He started complaining about the traffic and I emphasized with him. 

It didn't stop there. He wanted to know if I am Kannada or Tamil (the conversation so far had been in Kannada and his accent gave away that he was a Tamilian). He later claimed to have guessed my mother tongue by my face. Well, such talks makes me very uncomfortable. Ive been hiding my second names forever now because it reveals my linguistic and community identity. Now this guy claims to have rightly guessed my language by my face! I have been mistaken for a Marwari and a Malaysian and even Sri Lankan elsewhere. 

As I rolled my eyes and waiting for the traffic to clear; he started sharing about his life. He was not good in studies, just 7th grade. How he blew up money unto 7000 Rs everyday along with his friends visiting pubs. Only much later did he realize the importance of money. He was driving cars but for some reason; he was terminated after a month or so by every other employers and he doesn't know why? I chided myself for being mean but I thought "What else would anyone do if you dont have an inch of humility?" 

The conversation then moved to my hometown. I said I am from Bangalore and so were my parents. He said he is also from Bangalore; his parents migrated decades ago and his father serves in a public sector for 30 years now. And then I was thrown a challenge. "Can you take a wild guess how much my dad earns now?" I took a guess and said "Around 50000 Rs?" To which he responded 50000 and some Rs. I was glad that he didn't ask me what I was earning or how much my parents would be earning. 

So far; so good. But what offended me was his way of pulling others down. During our course of conversation; I said I lived my life and did my schooling in an area surrounded by Air Force campus. He could recognize that area and his question was "Oh! Did you live in that slum behind air force?" Well...well...that was not warranted. 

So when I got an opportunity I wouldn't miss it; would I? When he said his dad was in public sector and in those days; it was easy to get a job, I retorted "Oh yeah! my parents used to tell the same. Even cattle herders and illiterates were forcefully called and given jobs in public sectors" 

How is that?