episode 1 hari lal yadav

Here is the first episode of Meter Down podcast. You can listen to the episode while looking at the pictures (nicer) by clicking the player below, or listen in your default player by clicking on Hari Lal Yadav’s name below the Podcast Feed button on the sidebar to the right or listen and subscribe in iTunes by clicking on the iTunes icon in the sidebar. Also, I have included two small outtake clips which can be found below in this post.

Click on player to listen to the podcast:

Right click here to download podcast


This is Hari Lal Yadav. Jo hoygaa naseeb mein dekhaa jaayagaa.

harilal’s taxi.jpg

This is the back of Hari Lal’s taxi. Look closely to see his name written on the left and right of bottom of the wind screen. The design is suraj, the sun.

Click on the player above to listen to an outtake from our conversation where we spoke about his design, how much it cost, where he had it done, why he chose it. We also discuss a recently revoked rule put out by the RTO that forbade taxis to have designs on the back window. The rule was in effect for about 15-20 days and then just as mysteriously as it appeared, it was rescinded. In the meantime, taxis across the city were getting fines of Rs. 1,000 or Rs 1,200. Many taxis removed their designs, their words. Few have put them back again. In these taxis, the ghostly image of what was there on the glass still remains if you look closely. One taxi I was in had a particularly beautiful and intricate design. The driver told me he had removed his complete back window and stored it until the ruling was reversed. Then he had it put back again. He said it was cheaper than having it redone. Hari Lal paid Rs. 400 in 1997 when he got his suraj. It is much more expensive today. There are so many blank windowed cabs now in our city; the absense of prose passing by.

bank loan

The bank that holds his loan.

mirchi nimbu Nimbu -mirchi just in case

One more outtake follows. Hari Lal Yadav speaks about changes in Bombay in a very short clip. Click on the player.

The intro music is Boombay 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.

11 Responses to “episode 1 hari lal yadav”

  1. natasha Says:

    loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee it! i mean it kabi its uber-cool!

  2. Sapana Doshi Says:

    fantastic kabi. really…where to begin… there are so many layers to this piece ranging from everyday life of grind, making ends meet and little pleasures to wider politics of the city and country.

    i’d love to hear some background on these taxi companies and what it means for drivers. maybe this blog can help get support for their movement! i know one thing at a time.

    i’m a little confused by the key words under the categories – what purpose do you want them to serve?

    the outakes look interesting – maybe i’ll try them at 3 am when buffering is less of a pain.

    yet again you have inspired me in my own pursuit of stories of experiences of the city – so thank you my friend!

    much love,
    hey i just realized – is that how “kabi” came into being from “cabby”? 😉

  3. Kabi I can’t tell you how touched I was to hear at the very end of the your premier podcast that you had dedicated it to me…from the crazy intro music and distinct ‘ting’ of the meter to the final click-click-click and ending ‘ting’ as the pod closes, I simply loved it! The natural flow of the conversation was good – his reason for coming to Mumbai, and how he deals with the RTO wale and the union wale, the public, the pulis, the bevre log, the chors, the flyovers comin in and the towers comin up, and his interesting views on the dangers of eating too many vada pavs! .

    What I found most fascinating is my implicit expectations of some kinda elaborate observations of change — and how Hari Lal defies those expectations by answering in the simplest, most pared-down way. His answer to many questions (understandably) boils down to paisa kamana. For example his reply to the question about differences between his village and city — of which endless examples come to mind- is answered so simply: “Farak kali yeh hai, Madam. Paisa ki farak.” There is not much elaboration or observations of other differences, though you can assume he has noticed them. Its all in what he chooses to highlight.

    It also interested me that in the beginning he said something like the life in Bombay is fine but just a few minutes later you ask him again about Bombay ki zindigi — and he categorically replies “Accha nahin” I have noticed a similar thing, in casual conversations about many different topics. First, Its fine, then its not fine.. Its almost as if one answer is more polite and preliminary, (ie no thanks, I’m not hungry”) perhaps even acknowledging one’s access to opportunities and accepting and being grateful for what you have – but the second answer reflecting something more personal and honest.

    Your choice of images is great – esp one new one I hadn’t seen – the one that is all distorted in that wide angle way of the huge half-cut-off yellow license plate with the words Bombay Mercantile and Hari and the suraj in the background… nice. Also my old favorites fit in well here – the hazy focus “Love is Sweet Poison” and “Mohabbat Hai Mirchi” – Sach mein.…. Even the greenish surreal glow of the first image you see is very nice – I like how you can barely see the drivers face, just his shoulder, arm and edge of the wheel. This one (and the out of focus sweet poison image) expresses something of Bombay after dark.

    I really liked the content of the intro write up is really good – esp the part about how the drivers constantly interface with the changes in the city and the changes in the ‘public’ ( all hours of the day and night & across years) In doing so they have a unique view of the city and its people. They are the collectors of oral history as well. Interesting to think of the words on the back of individual cabs as signs, clues, signifiers of self. I have some more on the write-up and pod — but gotta go and prepare for an interview … second NYC job interview is tomorrow morn. So kabi – thanks for bringing me this lovely slice of meri upni dusri hometown. 🙂
    much love to you and kannu and dhapu-josh.

  4. Meenakshi Says:


    I love it! It is really great and I agree with him about the kick ass idli in Sion Koliwada. Your hindi sounds really good and you sound really cute! 🙂

    I think the good thing and a challenge at the same time will be the background noise (we all know i am super sensi about it) but it totally gives you the full experience of the taxi in Mumbai. At times, it was a little harder for me to hear you over it.

    I love the stories he has to tell, and so true, 4 bros and same chula is amazing. Well done Cubby! I love your intro- sound like an NPR announcer! We’ll have to start CubbyNagar Public Radio! CBR! I can’t wait for the next installment.

    love, Meenakshi!!

  5. Meenakshi Says:

    PS: I never knew you were a cab driver before!! That’s awesome!

  6. Amy Smith Says:

    I wish I understood Hindi! I loved the sounds of Bombay and heard the “movement” of the taxi through the streets. That was very transforming for me here in my office in LA. Also, I loved hearing your voice. What a trip. I love the pictures too. Very impressive and very cool.

  7. First time here. Came via the article in today’s paper.

    Lovely stuff. Good luck

  8. Hi Kabi! thanks for this great new project– (someday I’ll actually be able to understand more than a few phrases– I need Max to translate!).
    Keep drivin’ and talkin’

  9. hi,great shirt in your post,I love thatdamn goodshirt,I need to find one for me,bill

  10. As is the case with Mirabehn, any good biography of Gandhi will not only mention his children, but discuss Gandhi’s relationships with his children. This is partly because these relationships shed some interesting light on the main subject.
    Gandhi and Kasturba had four sons – Harilal (1888-1948) who was born in India, Manilal (1892-1956) born in India, Ramdas (1897-1969) born in South Africa, and Devdas (1900-1957) born in South Africa. Harilal and his wife Chanchal produced four children, Manilal and his wife Sushila three, Ramdas and his wife Nirmala two and Devdas and his wife Lakshmi four. Thus Gandhi had thirteen grandchildren. The family name is well and truly alive today.

    The story of Gandhi and his children is itself a long and involved one. The main theme seems to be that whilst the second, third and fourth sons coped fairly well with all that came with being a son of the Mahatma, the eldest Harilal did not cope well. You will notice that he was born when Gandhi was still a very young man, and he died in the same year. (He died in a tuberculosis hospital in June 1948.) The main theme with Harilal seems to be that in Gandhi’s drive to see that his wife and sons
    were integral parts of his many experiments with simple living, dietetics and so on, Gandhi deprived Harilal of things that a son from a normal middle-class marriage could have expected – a normal education, for example. Harilal apparently resented his father’s treatment of him (he argued that his father had had a university education), and even his father’s treatment of his mother. The record shows that Harilal at one stage converted to Islam and became an alcoholic. It seems also that
    when Harilal’s wife died in 1918 and his father would not approve a re-marriage, he broke down. It is undoubtedly a sad story.

    There seemed to be a paradox in Gandhi’s treatment of his wife and children and his behaviour towards others. He was exceptionally demanding of himself, and demanding of those closest to him. Whereas he displayed loving kindness to virtually everyone, with his family he could be quite severe. One of Gandhi’s best known biographers, Louis Fischer, in “The Life of Mahatma Gandhi”, put it beautifully when he wrote to the effect that Gandhi thought his sons could be chips off the old block (an English-language expression) but the block did not chip. Gandhi’s relationships with his other three sons seem to have mellowed in Gandhi’s later life.

    As for the grandchildren, I do not know all of their activities. I really only know of three. Arun – son of Manilal – is today Founder Director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, Tennessee. Ramchandra – son of Devdas – I believe is an academic, and Rajmohan – also son of Devdas – has been a journalist, academic,
    politician and activist. He is also a high quality author. In 1995 he published a biography of his grandfather, “The Good Boatman”, (Viking, New Delhi). In the preface of this book, Rajmohan describes Gandhi as being to him personally “both a wonder and a weight”.

    There are people who know more of the other grandchildren’s activities. If you really want to know I could put you in touch. Of course one can try to contact the grandchildren directly. Of course, the “grandchildren” are now middle-aged adults.
    As for the great-grand children I know even less. A son of Arun has been active in Indian political affairs in recent years, while Rajmohan has a talented daughter. I am not sure how much you want to know.

    The Gandhi film does deal with the children sparingly. I think Attenborough felt they were not central to the story of the man he wished to tell, which was a dramatic story. Although he did make a point of including one scene depicting an argument between Gandhi and Kasturba. For simple reasons of length, the film had to omit a very
    great deal. Aspects of his life that were important to a rounded picture of the man nevertheless had to be limited to a very brief reference. But this was probably unavoidable.

    Growing up with civil activism in their family was, as you say, a strong childhood influence. My understanding is that two or three of the sons played significant roles in their father’s work, in South Africa and in India. But it was clearly a strain to be a son of the Mahatma and to live in his gigantic shadow. There was never any chance of a completely normal life. Even today, members of the Gandhi family have an incredible
    legacy to shoulder.

  11. I also wish to ask you whether it is possible for one to learn about Gandhi’s children (& grandchildren).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: