Thursday, August 13, 2009
Off the rear view mirror
Yesterday, when I walked off Sarda Plywood’s office at Park Street, it was 3.30 PM, sharp. Immediately, I hailed a cab and the cabby obliged. I had to reach Gariahat, soon. So, without wasting a split second, I got settled (you may read nestled) inside the vehicle.
Then only I noticed the cabby. The guy was in his early 50s, I guessed. Slender. Having grey hair. And also realized, in a short while, that he was on a higher plank too.
Firstly, thanks to the smell of the country liquor he must have consumed at lunch and secondly, owing to his worldly expression of commonsense and life’s experience.
Actually, the incident took place while we reached the intersection just under the Park Circus flyover. A young, quite hardy, and self-employed beggar knocked on the windowpane close to my seat in the rear to draw my attention. He was begging in the name of Lokenath Baba, as if the BABA instructed him only to beg from people minus doing any work in order to worship the BABA as a devotee.
Facing the beggar (or should I say the bugger) and his petty efforts to make a few quick bucks, I, obviously, became very disgusted. Though I didn’t utter a single word but my facial expression was changed. So was my body language. Towards annoyance, of course.
The cabby, on the rear view mirror, I’m sure, witnessed that change on me. Hence, he opened his mouth to talk. For the first time, in fact, since I boarded his cab.
The first thing he said was that we, the Indians, especially the Kolkatans were losing on our workability and self-dignity rather thick and fast.
Frankly, I was taken aback. Those types of word, and that too, from a so called “illiterate” cabby… well, kind of a shockwave to me. However, those words helped me erase my beggar-bugging irritation and, instantly, I turned pretty curious to know why he said so.
So, I enquired and he explained, “Sir, foreigners love to see beggars in our country, especially begging on roads. Thus, they are the major contributors or donors of such an easy-money to our young brigade – who don’t have the requisite education to understand what’s good to earn and what’s not. Plus, those moneyed men of our own nation also patronize this begging spree, so that they too can exploit and pick those uneducated and idle brains as and when required.”
I was stunned! Yes, I was truly stunned! Was I listening to a cabby? Was I? I didn’t know. And, inevitably, my next question to the guy at the wheel was, “How could you utter such things? Who told you these?”
Pat came his reply, “None, sir. Whatever I told you was my hard earned experience. Because I have seen places and people. I have been driving for 22 years. Earlier, I used to drive trucks and travelled to Delhi, Mumbai, and Siliguri, and almost all parts of Assam and Punjab… and now for the last three years, I have been driving taxi at Kolkata.”
I pushed his words down, in a great hurry, through the gullet of my mind. There was no time to digest though, as we reached Gariahat.
Later on, in the evening, when I was strolling around the lake, I was actually trying to digest what I heard from that cabby.
I really wonder, if a cabby in our country can think so and reflect such a truth, as a matter of fact, off the rear view mirror, then why can’t the majority of our leaders, politicians, industrialists, intellectuals, social, motivational and management gurus can’t do the same for the millions of followers whom they lead everyday, everywhere, and every time!