episode 8 lallan singh
I was in Govandi, and it was evening and I realised that I had never talked to a driver starting from the eastern suburbs. So instead of getting on the train I found Lallan Prasad Singh’s taxi and he was the first driver not from UP. He is from Jharkhand. Though his accent is different, his story is not so different and yet of course, it is unique. We speak about the day he left his village, alone, at 16 or 17 years old, just after taking his 10th boards, father and son walking from the village to the station. The facts of migration are daily and commonplace in their repetition; I was 16. I am from a village. I got on a train, alone, to go to a far away iconic city where I don’t know anyone, with just an address of a lodge in my hand, a name with no meaning. What would that feel like? A wrenching of the heart? Terror? A sadness that seems bottomless? And now years later, a story. Click on the player icon to stream. If it buffers too much, click on the file name lallan singh podcast below to stream from WordPress or click on the name Lallan Singh under Podcast Feed in the sidebar to the right. (16 min 27 sec)
Lallan Singh said these words above when we were speaking of the changes to Bombay, to Saat Rasta where he worked in a Mill, to Lower Parel and Parel. He has never been inside Phoenix Mills or any of the new malls in Mulund or Malad or anywhere else, though he has dropped passengers at these places. He says he gets happy looking at them. Yet somehow he couldn’t articulate why he never goes in. But he said that even if he doesn’t go inside, someday his son will. This new Bombay might not be his, but it will be his son’s. I don’t know but I am somehow humbled by his words.
Lallan Singh explained why his son is in English medium and his daughters are in Hindi medium. If a daughter is English medium educated, she will need a husband that is equally educated, or better. Then dahej will be Rs. 12L. He can’t afford that so the solution is to lower her potential to match the dahej price he will be able to afford. In this outtake, he further talks about his daughters’ marriage and how is he looking for someone ‘medium’ like he is. (2 min 48 sec)
Lallan Singh described his coming to Bombay. After he came and settled, his younger brother came, the one who owns the taxi permit. In this outtake he talks more about his brother’s coming to Bombay. (25 sec)
Where is ghar, where is desh, where is mulak? Lallan Singh was born and lived in Jharkhand and then came to Bombay. In the podcast he answers these questions. But what about his son who was born here and raised here? In this outtake, Lallan Singh tells us what his son says. (36 sec)
We talked about the day he left the village. But there was more. What about the day he landed in Bombay, a city in which he knew no one. Getting of the train amid the masses at VT. Where did he go? How did he know to go there? In this outtake Lallan Singh speaks of his arrival. (1 min 12 sec)
Lallan Singh has 5 brothers and they are all still one chulla, one joint family. In this age of families that fracture so easily, how do they manage to stay together. In this outtake, he explains.
I keep testing this blog and it seems that the audio files were buffering more and more, more than the podcast feed. Up til now, they were uploaded to a hotlink site. In this posting I have parked the outtake audio files here at WordPress which doesn’t give me a URL for them so the player icon isn’t created, just the link. I hope the speed improves. Let me know if there is a better way to do this on a wordpress.com site.
I am still searching for a translator/transcriber. I might have one and it seems I do have one at the end of February. In the meantime, no Hindi transcript and no Hindi blog. If anyone has a name, please pass it on. Email me or post it in the comments section.
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.