A Rick-ety Experience
People write about a lot of different things. Some people write about nature, the environment, space, the cosmos, or even the classification of different types of bird shit (“No, John, it may LOOK like an ordinary crow. But if you taste it, you’ll see it belonged to the rare Lesser Black-backed Gull.”) Still others write about war, famine, epidemics, quakes, plagues, and the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation.
My favourite topic when it comes to the mundane and the depressing, however, seems to be the loyal public service provider who is apparently DEDICATED to giving me an unending stream of material to write about… the stalwart auto driver.
Now I DO know there are some auto drivers who behave like sane, honest, law-abiding citizens, but an overwhelming lot seems bent on proving that laws are made to be broken. These are men of legend, about whom songs have been sung and dedicated, notably, Rob Zombie’s ‘Scum of the earth’.
Frustration can make you do many stupid things, but it is still something many people can easily relate to. If you have ever tried flagging down an auto on a busy road, and ON a rainy day… I’m sure you’d know how it feels like to shout obscenities at the sky and sprain your toe by kicking lamp-posts, followed by what I like to call the toe-hopping dance. If not, you’d be quite perplexed if you chance to observe my daily routine…
“Oh, my. What strange custom. Him seems to be hopping on leg while chanting… what’s that he’s saying?… ‘Yu Go Dam Sa Nova Beach‘?? Is that Japanese?”
“I’ve seen him around before, madam. He does this regularly around this time. Must be a new religion or something”
No, it is not a new religion, although I HAVE verbally banished a few spawns of the devil back to their natural habitat.
So it was after this routine, customary dance one day when I found an auto which was willing to take me to my destination… but he was charging twice the normal fare. I happened to be in a hurry, and it WAS raining rather heavily. My primal instinct dictated terms giving preference to remaining dry. So I took up the offer without haggling too much. But if I said I was happy about it… that I jumped up to the front seat and hugged the driver, calling him the best thing since sliced bread… I’d be lying.
No, I was not the proverbial happy camper. I was still grumbling about the deft pricing strategies when he asked me to move over a bit so that he can get other passengers in the rick as well.
“aap baarish ka faida utaa raha hai, kya?”
“are you trying to capitalize on the rain, now?”
“arre, dekho. bechaare log ab baarish mein faz gaye hai”
“take a look outside. the poor people are stuck in the rain there.”
“mauka mil gaya tho usko bhee loot lega, kya?”
“if you get the chance, you’d rob them too, eh?”
This drove him mad. He didn’t like the way I implied he robbed people. True, he was charging double the legal fare and true, he was thinking of pumping out cash from the wet and straining folks out stuck in the rain until all that’s left of them are their undies, but he was NOT a robber. He obviously preferred the term ‘con-man’. So he stopped the rick, looked back at me with eyes that screamed ‘you’re-gonna-pay-for-that,-mister’ and barked off…
“Mein thera baap ka maal loot raha hai, kya”?”
“Am I stealing your DAD’S money??”
This was amusing.
“Nahee. Mera baap ka maal nahee. MERA maal loot raha hai.”
“Nope. You are not stealing my dad’s money. You’re stealing MINE”
This ticked him off no end. He threw me off the rick and stormed off in hot, blazing fury. I imagined a thick cloud of vapour hovering his auto as the heat of his fury evaporated all the rain falling near it.
I had to walk home that day. I got drenched. I was cold. But even as the incessant drips of icy water droplets tricked over my face, I was aware that I was laughing.
“Egad, James. Isn’t that the same Japanese speaking religion founder we saw a while back? Is he really laughing out there, stuck in the rain like that? These people. These customs. They is very strange, no?”