Samaad Ali Khan, he says in the podcast. But when I put his name into my phone, he said Nabob Bhai. That is what he goes by. I had gotten into his taxi in Bhendi Bazaar and we went up Amebedkar Rd, through Byculla to Saat Rasta and up Tulsi Pipe. You can hear the engine roaring while he is reciting Hindi lyrics as we climb the rise of the flyover. I usually ask the drivers if they ever had any trouble from the anti-bhaiyya rhetoric. Subash Chand had left the city because of it once. But mostly I heard ‘kaam-se-kaam’. Up til now, I had never included the answers. Until Nabob Bhai. I had kept my question and his answer in the podcast. And then a few days later, Raj Thackeray and his MNS goondas, in a bad imitation of his uncle’s sad, old campaign, set off this chain of maar-peeth bakwas, much of it symbolically aimed at a few drivers. We have multiple identities, from here and from there. What did Mushtaq and Sevalal say? Karmi bhumi and dharmi bhumi, but most important, Indian. Bombay sab ke liya hai. Hi speed internetwalas, click on the player. If too much buffering then click on nabob bhai podcast to listen. (20 min 5 sec)
Sanjay Dutt, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachan, Hema Malini, Sridevi, Meena Kumari. We had a very filmi conversation. When I asked him the difference between Bombay ke log and UP ke log, he ended up talking about the film Coolie. Listen in this outtake. (1 min 24 sec)
or click here coolie film
I keep probing the idea of home, of desh, of mulak, of the multiplicities of belonging that saturate any act of migration, of leaving and arrival. I probe the drivers. And listen for clues to myself. I asked Nabob Bhai about Bombay and desh. He earns his do roti here so its also his desh. My answers are different. But then it wasnt majboori that brought me. (28 sec)
or click here ->desh
Nabob Bhai is a driver. He doesn’t own his taxi. It is the drivers that are the most vulnerable to the changes to the taxi trade. The taxi owners can sell their fiats for junk, and sell or lease their permit, to the fleet companies perhaps. The drivers can only find another taxi to lease. I asked Nabob Bhai why he doesn’t buy his own taxi. (35 sec)
or click here ->new vehicle
I have yet to find a taxi driver who wanted their son to drive taxi or even would advise a young man from the village to get into taxi line. Nabob Bhai is no different. In fact he woudn’t wish it on an enemy. Listen to how he says that in this outtake. (1 min)
or click here -> advice to young men
Still hoping the Hindi translator/transcriber can start at the end of the month.
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.