One night a group of us, 5 of us in fact, needed a taxi get from the place we were to the place we wanted to eat. The driver was at first hesitant to take 5 of us, but he relented. He and I talked and when we reached our destination I wanted to keep talking but my friends were going in to eat. I explained that I wanted to talk to him further, to record our conversation. We exchanged numbers and a few days later we met in town. As always I had him down his meter and he drove and we talked. Guptaji has been driving cab since 1967. 40 years. I have done my best to edit what was a long and far-ranging conversation. There are more than the usual number of outtakes to listen to by clicking on the player icons below his photo.
To hear the podcast click on this player
Lalan Gupta. “Chauda saal ki umr se maine apni kamai khaya. Mai aur kisi ko nahin janta.”
Guptaji is the besotted, devoted father of his only child, a daughter named Roshini. And she is his Roshini. He spoke of her over and over, very lovingly. He gives her everything she asks for and takes her every Sunday to eat whatever she wants. He sends her to an English Medium school. He is thinking of sending her to a boarding school so that she will have more prospects for her future. Except that it would break his heart when she went away. I hope he doesn’t send her. The following is an outtake where he talks about her. (Duration: 1 min)
Guptaji will tell you about it in this outtake. (Duration: 29 sec)
When Guptaji first came to Bombay with his brother he continued his schooling. This outtake describes why he finally had to drop out and how he first earned his roji roti in Colaba market. (Duration: 38 Sec)
Guptaji got his taxi badge and started driving in 1967. In 1976 he bought his own taxi. In this outtake he talks about buying his first taxi and explains how he was able to buy new a new one when the previous ones got too old. He is on his third taxi now. (Duration: 1 minute 40 sec)
Guptaji’s current taxi is 19 years old. He will have to replace it but Fiats are no longer being made or sold. In this outtake he talks about what models he is considering to replace his and compares them to Fiats. (Duration: 1 minute 44 sec)
The intro music in the podcast is the song Boombai Nagari from the movie Taxi 9211, sung by Bappa Lahiri, Merriene , Nisha and Vishal Dadlani.
Music by Vishal Dadlani and Shekar, lyrics by Vishal Dadlani and Dev Kohli.