Archive for November, 2008

episode 15 jamid ali

Posted in bombay, hindi, podcast, taxi, taxi story with tags , , , , , , , , , on 28, November 2008 by meterdown

Between Nabob Bhai and Sagir Bhai is a post called Interlude. A young taxi driver singing a ghazal. That is Jamid Ali. We have stayed in touch, phoning each other as he took his sick taxi driver father back home to the village and came back. Then went back to care for him, bury him, and complete the ritual obligations and then come back. Up until now, each of the drivers I spoke with were picked serendipitously off the street. We start as strangers. There seems to be a magic in that, the unfolding that can happen with a stranger, in a closed and intimate space, that moment when the formality melts away and the conversation opens like a bud, like a flower. So I was unsure about changing that way of doing this. A conversation with someone I know, someone whose story I know, what would that be like? So here it is, Jamid Ali, Nabob Bhai ka bhateeja, my friend, no longer just an interlude. Click on ‘jamid ali podcast’ link below to stream or right click to download or click on feed in column on right side. (24 min 54 sec)

jamid ali podcast


jamid ali: kwaish adami ki asmaan chhoona ki hoti

In the Interlude post, there is an audio file of Jamil Ali singing a ghazal about mothers, or I suspect, his memories of his mother that is no longer with him. Below is a video, taken with my little point-and-shoot of him singing the same ghazal.

About a month ago in Bombay there was a strike by taxi and rickshaw drivers over the ruling that taxis  older than 15 years are to be removed from the roads. Many of the drivers in this blog talk spiritedly about this saying that the fiat car is strong, that it should be judged on the condition of the vehicle and not its age. And what of the many drivers whose livelihood will be taken away from them when their taxis are taken off the roads.  There is currently a case that has been moved in the high court challenging this government resolution. The papers have covered it. In the outtake below Jamid Ali speaks about the strength of the lohari fiat and has his ideas of how to ensure a driver keeps it maintained. But then he tells a wonderful story about a woman, a widow, who owns a taxi and what this ruling will mean to her and her two children. (2 min 56 sec)

outtake 15 saal ki taxi

byculla traffic

Taxi drivers are being fined when they refuse a fare. I often feel like I am asking for a favour to be granted as i walk a line of taxis, bending down to window level, saying where it is I want to go, ending the word with that hesitant inflexion and slight raising of tonation that connotes permission. But I confess, having been a driver, there is that other part of me that is in the front seat turning me down with a shake of my head. In the outtke below, Jamid Ali tells his story of when he couldnt get a taxi, a tale of tables turned.(1 min 36 sec)

outtake cant get a taxi

jamid ali4 jamid ali5 jamid ali2

Films are a common denominator, a topic as easy to speak about as the weather, high prices and the traffic in Bombay. Many conversations open up from here. If I were to keep a poll, Shah Rukh Khan always gets the highest ratings. Jamid Ali is no exception. In the outtake below he talks about plot, haqeeqat and Karan Arjun. (2 min 17 sec)

outtake karan arjun

meter taxi-back

Between the time we recorded this conversation and now, Jamid Ali has gone back to UP. His brother had been bunking school. He needed the guiding hand and, I wonder, the punishing hand of an older brother to put him back on the path of attendance. It seems to be working. In the podcast Jamid Ali says that only if his brother gets a good education and a good future, then Jamid Ali’s leaving behind his badmashi days will have produced something meaningful.  I think they are already have.

Below is one more ghazal written by and sung by Jamid Ali….to his brother.(3 min 37 sec)

bhai ghazal

for hire

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