Friday, December 18, 2015

A story of two rides

Yesterday, I was traveling for work. We had a really nice cab driver, who spoke to me in Tamil, to a colleague in Malayalam and to another in Hindi. I was really impressed with his linguistic ability and when he was taking me back to the airport, I asked him how he knew so many languages.

He started telling me his life story. He had migrated from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu to Mumbai 30 years ago in the hope that his uncle would help him find a job as a technician. His uncle was not very supportive and he joined a factory. Unfortunately, they shut down and he had to find another job. A malayali boss took pity on him and hired him as a driver. He worked with them for 15 years and also got married in that time. He had three kids and his in-laws hit a jackpot with some business venture paying off. His wife wanted him to ask her father for money and he refused. He takes money from money lenders at huge interest rates to educate his children.

I was reading an article about people joining Uber as drivers as it is very lucrative. This poor driver, doing a minimum wage job he hates, living a life that he feels is not worth the effort - tells me that he drove for 48 hours straight with Uber and still hasnt made much. What do I believe?

Today, I had to go for a conference and I took an auto. The driver asked me if I was Tamil as I was supposedly very polite when I addressed him and told him where I wanted to go. (That is a theory I have to test, but I think it was a lucky guess). He was happy that I could speak fluent Kannada and give directions to him in the same.

He was remarking about how much Bangalore has changed ever since he started driving an auto in 82. Apparently, he once sped away from Madiwala as the area was too deserted and he was scared someone might hurt him at 12 in the afternoon!

He had saved very diligently and invested money in a chit fund for his sister's wedding. One fine day in 2000, the chit fund disappeared with all his investments. Till date, he is paying back the loans and has decided to not have kids.

He said that I was the first customer in a long time to watch the traffic and not look at the phone. He asked me, "What do people do all the time with the phone?"

After I got down from the auto, I received an email from an investment firm asking if i wanted to invest in mutual funds and gain high rewards. I know it is unfair to compare the fraudulent chit fund with a mutual fund, but my mind made the connect. For those from the lower strata of the society, it is so difficult to make money and so many things we take for granted, they cannot comprehend let alone embrace..

1 comment:

Raji said...

Drawn inspiration from drivers?