When a cabbie spoke to me about Modi for the first time, I thought it was a one-off thing. But a couple of weeks ago, another driver did the same and now I know this might become a pattern.
So it all began when he started telling me about his peaceful village in Himachal, which does not even have a road leading up to it. Not even a cycling track. You have to walk 3 km from the road to reach this village, I think he said it was in Una or called Una. We were speaking about peaceful things like how his grandparents are fit and fine at their age and how the apples from Himachal are so juicy and naturally the conversation veered towards food.
That is when it took a violent turn.
He said they hunt (shikaar) and eat deer and wild boars. I somehow managed to keep my thoughts to myself till he said that they also hunt tigers. Yup, tigers. Apparently, Modi let three of them loose in the jungle. They got one and there are three more to go. So I got all wildlife protection and endangered species on his ass. I also told him that humans are not part of their food chain. He laughed and said, let a tiger come in front of Modi and I dare him to not shoot first. He added, for good measure, that I wouldn’t fare any better in that encounter either. God forbid, were I to come face to face with the beast, he said, I would not wait to watch whether he would eat me or not. 🙂 And just like that, the subject of tigers was definitely done and dusted.
I don’t know the taxiwala’s name. I just know that he came from UP to Bombay and has worked hard and has had many jobs. He has also been a day and night watchman at one point. He said that driving a taxi is the only job that gives you higher returns if you work harder. He has two sons who are doing very well for themselves. One is an MBA making 42 grand in Bangalore and the other is a medical rep in Bombay.
So I wondered why he is still driving a taxi and whether his sons ask him to stop. That’s when he told me that it is important to keep working and I added that it is better not to depend on anyone. But, he disagreed. We have strong ‘sanskar’ he said, but, you can’t expect anything from anyone. “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kada Chana,” he quoted. Then he steered the conversation to Modi’s visit to Bombay for a Jain peer’s 300th book release. He told me that crores of rupees have been spent on the pandal. He said that Modi was right in his beliefs but it is difficult to govern (tantra is the term he used) such a diverse country where there are people from so many different religions and speak so many different languages. But he felt Modi has created a positive impression about India abroad.
“Aapko yaad hoga VP Singh ke time pe, desh ka sona girvi rakhke paise laye the…” he said. Not that I recall VP Singh’s politics, but I nodded anyway because his lecture was very interesting.
On the one hand, there is Modi trying to create a good image and on the other hand, there is Aamir Khan who is the brand ambassador telling that his wife wants to leave the country. What will those who live abroad think if all these people who get such VIP treatment and all extra security and other perks talk like that, he asked? I did not have a fitting reply because I tried to imagine a situation where Aamir Khan would dis a brand that he endorses and failed.
At one point in our conversation, while talking about traffic and how people behave on the road, he said that if people only spared a thought for the other person all our problems would be solved. And that was my takeaway for the day.