Conversations with Cabbies: Episode Two

Yesterday, I had two unique individuals who drove me to a client meeting and back in the ‘Town’ area of Mumbai yesterday. I normally find cab drivers extremely informative and entertaining people to meet. But these two individuals are a writers delight to carve a story out of. The first individual was an Urdu speaking native from the chawls of Mumbai, claimed to be a school mate of ‘World Don- Dawood’ and seemed to eulogize him in many a way. His knowledge of the town area in Mumbai was intense; he took me on a guided journey from showing the oldest shopping centre in Mumbai to Lata Mangeshkar’s Apartment Block and Mukesh Ambani’s one billion dollar home.  He also spoke Arabic as he was a driver in Saudi Arabia for a long time including the 1990 Gulf War. The most surprising aspect was that he was questioning the authenticity of the findings of the 26/11 murder of Hemant Karkare by showing me Cama Hospital. Many other surprising anecdotes such as the a premier padmini taxi in 1978 was priced at Rs 28000! He had to pay Rs 2000 as a bribe to the RTO to get it on road, so Licence Raj!

The second individual was an encyclopedic insight in Sugar cane belt politics in Maharashtra. He analysed Sharad Pawar Saheb’s response in the aftermath of the 1992 bomb blasts quite innovatively. He seemed to support political corruption as a cost for development. The development of the suburbs and satellite townships around Mumbai were according to him a foresight of Pawar Saheb. It was the total legitimization of the Politician-Builder nexus. This is the DNA of Maharashtra politics in my regard.

After two splendid conversations, I realized that we have to learn from the School of Life rather than paper academic qualifications. The examination of life is the real exam. Let learning be unschooled, through cinema, conversations and other forms of art.

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