episode 3 guptaji

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

to download podcast, right click here

For Hindi transcript of podcast click here


Lalan Gupta. “Chauda saal ki umr se maine apni kamai khaya. Mai aur kisi ko nahin janta.”

side.jpg hands.jpg license.jpg

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)

Apparently Guptaji was quite a hero when he was young. He was often told he looked like Devanand. This is a photo of what Devanand looked like in the 1950s next to Guptaji now. .devanand.jpgguptajibw.jpg

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.

6 Responses to “episode 3 guptaji”

  1. Kabi-
    I didn’t listen to the main pod yet, just the outtakes but I loved to see for myself how much Guptaji ressembles Devanand and to hear him talk about how much he used to enjoy being called “Hero” It is indeed a striking resemblance — well the nose is slightly different but he definately has that stylin hero look. Even the first photo at the top is great — gotta love his arched eyebrows — he looks like he’s just spotted a attractive woman on the street and he’s givin her the bedroom eyes:-)

    I also thought it was very sweet to hear him praise his Fiat. A fiat man thru and thru. Fiat itna majboot gari hai…..
    I mean what better way to explain the beauty of a machine than to explain exactly how many men and how many pieces of luggage it can carry without feeling the strain!

  2. meterdown Says:

    hey paige,
    when i showed guptaji the webpage before publishing it, and he saw the side by side pictures of him and devanand, he said he used to have a photo of himself when he was in his 20s. he didnt know where it was. would have been supercool to have a photo of guptaji then next to devanand then, both old photos.


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  5. Sachin Jain Says:

    Dear Kabi
    The pics are superb, but it says “error opening file” when I click on the podcast 😦
    You are right, it would have been awesome to have Guptaji’s pic in his 20s next to Dev Anand’s. In fact Guptaji must be a treasure-trove of information on how film-watching habits have changed in Bombay. I can imagine him driving a family, rife with anticipation, to a Shammi Kapoor film in the 1960s, to one of the magnificent theaters. And a bunch of teens today to an Adlabs multiplex.

  6. hi sachin,

    the hosting site might have been having some problems. i just tried and it is working. I am also going to add a place for download along with the live listening. do you remember if you noticed the hindi? did it look OK on your browser? if so, which browser and which operating system (windows? mac?).

    there are so many questions to ask these guys. but time is such a constraint. i should ask anyway and at least have the raw files. but i am such an indulgent editor, its hard to cut. but yes, that would have been a wonderful path to explore with him.

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