by- Aishwarya Shree Sharma
NOTE: this blog post is dedicated to all the interesting cab drivers I have met in Mumbai over the last three years. Finding more space in their hearts in comparison to the fancy bag carrying napeansea road relatives, the cab drivers of Mumbai have helped me survive this city. Keeping in mind the many stories and tales from the cabbies, here is my account with cab driver Pandeyji, who has been always there for me no matter what condition. Sorry as much as I would have loved to provide a picture Pandeyji is camera shy.
Pandey ji is a cab driver who is often seen around our college campus, eagerly waiting for a ride Pandeyji (Ji as I like to call him with respect) has found a very special place in my life in Mumbai.The story of Pandeyji and me, began early in 1st year at Sophia’s , the first cab I ever took from around college was his. Little did I know from here would unfold one of my fondest friendships I made in Mumbai. A happy go lucky man all of 51 years, Pandeyji came to Mumbai when he was only 19 years old “Hum Allahbad ke hain” is a line you would hear him say often. Standing 5 feet 10 inches tall, Pandeyji is your typical Mumbai cab driver, chivalrous, concerned, and high on dignity,
“Hum jab ghar ko chod kar aaye the, toh sabne bola ghar baar chod kar, kaun gadi chalayega, Par humne keh diya jo humara pet bharega who Bhagwan ke barabar hain, chahe kaam bada ho ya chota”,
he spoke as he held his head high, not distracting himself a moment from the road. Pandey came to Mumbai a young man full of aspirations,
“Hum karna toh bahaut kuch chahte the, nahi who actor aur who sab nahi, khayalon mein hum zada waqt nahi bitate, Hum apne bacho ko achi Zindagi dena chahte the, chahe humein apne sapno ko chodna padta, ya fir apne ghar walon ko dukh dena padta”,
today Pandeyji is father to two sons, of one who is studying medical at the Allahbad University and the other currently in his 12th grade,
“Humara sapna tha ki humare sare bache pad kar nikle, humari jaisi gadha mazdoori mein na lage rahe, aap bhi ek din bade hokar kuch karna chahogi, hum yahi sapna apne bache ke liye bhi dekhte hain”,
further pandeyji tells me a tale which I cannot seem to forget
“Humara bada beta jab pehli baar medical padke vapas ghar aaya, toh sare bacho ko lekar who talab ke paas gaye, wahan par unho ne maindak pakde aur, lakdi par band kar unko ‘dissection’ ke bare mein sikhaya, aap dissection toh samajhti hongi, aaj humare ghar ke paas kaafi bache medical padhna chahte hain, who bhi yeh ‘dissection’ ke bare mein seekhna chahte hain”
he speaks as he laughs and confesses that dissection is beyond him and when his son asked him the first time what dissection, he lied to him.
When I asked Pandeyji what about his own dreams and aspiration’s he only said
“Humare pehle humare purvajo ne apni stihthi ke bare mein bahaut kuch karne ki koshish kari, par har baar haar se hi mulakat hui, jab hum 10 saal ke the humari ma guzar gayi, aur unke liye humare pita kuch nahi kar paye, hum nahi chahte the ki jab hum bade ho apne parivaar ko dukh dard mein dekh paye, humara parivaar bhi humara ek sapna hain, jisko hum khush karne ke liye kuch bhi karenge”.
Pandeyji is not merely a cab driver, he is one of those many people that head to the financial capital of India everyday to make something of his life, but what is his choice when in a country like India where development is only city centric, what does a man do when the government does not provide for developments in not only cvillages about also townships of our country.
“Agar hum ghar reh sakte, toh hum reh lete, aakhir kaun apna ghar baar chod kar door jana chahega, jo humne kiya woh sabke bhalayi ke liye hi kara, beshak hume din khana na mila kyunki hum kaam mein lage the, hum apne aap ko yehi yaad dilate hain ki agar behtar kal dekhna ho toh aaj hi kuch karna padega”.
Pandeyji gave up a lot of himself before he left home, from land, to family looking down upon his choice he had to take many a difficult decisions before moving to Mumbai.
“Sabne kaha, kya pasand nahi? Jaise waqt guzra humare bhaiyon ne humara ghar mein na hone ka faiyda uthaya, par humne kaha chodo, kaun zameen ke peche ladega, hum bas chahte hain ki humare bacho ko kuch na ho, jab pad kar niklenge toh sabko peeche chod hi denge”.
Pandeyji has not only been a cab driver to me, being one of the top five people on my speed dial, he has been at my service at any point of the day and night, “Baby, humne aapko kitnibaar bola hain chahe koi bhi time ho, ya kabhi kisi bhi sankat mein ho yaad rakhiya ga ki pandey hain, chahe aap shehar ke doosre kone mein hi kyun na ho Pandey aapke madadat ke liye zaroor ayega.”, and this is a promise Pandeyji has never failed to fulfill.
3 years ago I stepped into a city which I had heard a lot about. Be it the ruthless ways of the city, how it consumes you, and how you only change as a person and often not for the better. How people never have the time to breathe let alone have time for the ones they love, and then you have a Pandeyji who stands there to only prove everyone wrong. This cab is not merely an average Kali-Peeli for me it is a reminder that no matter where I am or however I am there will always be a Pandeyji who will care unconditionally.