About

avatar.jpgthis blog is the space for the shownotes of my meter down podcast. each episode is a conversation with a bombay taxi driver as we drive through the city. the blog is in english but the conversations are in hindi. we will talk of migration and home, of bombay and change, of life and taxi driving. taxi drivers tell great taxi stories. I guess I should disclose at this point, I am an ex-taxi driver. I didn’t drive in bombay, I drove in los angeles, for 3 years, the night shift. though I had lived in LA for years, it wasn’t until I rode through the night streets of that far-flung city, that I got to know those layers beneath that layer of everyday life.

taxi drivers write the city. they move through its streets, they collect its stories, they are confronted with its changes. huts disappear and reappear, buildings rise up where there was some thing else, mills die and whole sections of the city and its people are no longer there or no longer the same. roads get widened, flyovers are built, people shift further north, or further east, there are new territories. we may pass through these or we may not. but taxis are constantly tracking these changes as their passengers bring them through the newnesses and they experience the absense of the old. the city and its people are their constant present and the rhythm and the changes stick to them. the story of the city pools in their taxis and it is theirs to tell.

and the taxi drivers themselves……..most are not from bombay, not from maharashtra. I am interested in this internal migration, the movement of people from the villages to this city that looks more outward to the globalised world than inward to its hinterlands. what have they left behind, who have they left behind, why did they come, what dreams did they bring and what dreams remain. where is home now. is there a return. what histories do they carry inside them that we don’t see.

and one more reason why taxi drivers. because their profession is poised to be swept along in this tufaan of change, this incredible rush to copy the forms of these already created future cities. new taxis of newer model cars are appearing on the roads, and they are being driven by a different type of driver. the kaali-peeli premier bombay taxi, with its mechanical meters, its bright rexine mudflaps, its radium designs across the boot and bonnet and doors, and the words on the back windows, like signs or clues, will slowly but inexorably disappear. the patterned seat covers, the mirrors on the ceilings, the dashboard displays, the creative and personal design that makes each taxi a signifier of self. something plain and pastel and tinny will take its place, perhaps it will be more comfortable but we will have lost something that expresses our city story. and what will become of these drivers, and their writing of our city?

I hope that some of my listeners are people who lived here and are now somewhere else. I know they miss bombay. I picture them listening to the podcast, sitting in the dark perhaps, hearing the ambient cacophony of the city outside the taxi, the names of places, or streets, the sound story of where they left, and for just a bit of time, ek pal, they can be back here, in bombay nagari, in amchi mumbai.

I would like to thank some people that helped me with these podcasts. rehaan for his FCP lesson, shivraj for his FCP lessons and being my sound guru, subuhi for her voice and the voiceover, kannu for endlessly listening to the interviews and keeping his objectivity in the face of my over-indulgence during the editing decisions.I have lived in bombay for 18 years. its my home and I too am a migrant here.

26 Responses to “About”

  1. The introduction sets the right tone. Is gripping and lucid, though ther are some grammatical errors. Hope you have interwoven the Mumbai song with the traffic sounds of the city. I feel this podcast will bring back a lot of response.
    Good luck.
    Love, Bharati

  2. kabi,

    i love it….really its superb….

    hugs
    sheba

  3. Hey ur podcast is great…keep it up.

  4. hey jisan, thanks. glad you are enjoying. check back in about a week. there will be a new podcast. and hopefully a complete hindi blog page, starting with this new episode.

    kabi

  5. hi,

    Superb podcast. the intro was really good. Didn’t know u also drove a taxi before!! That’s soo kool..An awesome concept…

    Keep it up!!

  6. Great work!! amazing!! im in love with the concept.. very inspiring.

  7. meterdown Says:

    sajjad, thanks for your words. I love doing this blog and the audio. means a lot to me when someone enjoys.

    kabi

  8. Subuhi Jiwani Says:

    Kabi,

    What an amazing archive of oral histories this is! I promise to listen more closely and respond with my heart.

    Lots of love,

    Me

  9. Really enjoy the interviews with the taxi drivers and their stories/background. Giving voice to a population that is often ignored. I hope you will continue to have these available.

  10. Simply wonderful idea. Really innovative and refreshing.

  11. very nice! keep up the imagination…

  12. I enjoy your podcasts very much, that’s why I linked you 🙂 and it’s helping me with my hindi (although some of the drivers are hard to understand..;) ).
    Hopefully I’ll be studying Hindi at Delhi University from July on. The application is about to be sent.
    most of my blog will be in German. any chance you’ll understand something?
    Will you do a Delhi-episode soon? 😉

    keep it up!

    Ste

  13. Wonderful work, Kabi — a fantastic aural archive of the city. I’ll look forward to more iterations soon.

    You may be interested in the work of Nyaya Bhoomi (http://www.nyayabhoomi.org), doing wonderful work with auto-wallahs in Delhi.

    Ben

  14. Hey Kabi, you are doing amazing work. I can only imagine your dedication and hard work to bring the voice of mumbai taxi drivers in forefront. I am a regular listener of your podcast.

    Thanks
    Bhavesh

    • meterdown Says:

      thanks bavesh. its nice to hear that you are a regular listener. each driver has a unique story and sees this city and its changes and his work with a unique lens. any suggestions for lines of inquiry or things you are curious about, please do let me know. kabi

  15. Dhanji Bhudia Says:

    Really great work Kabi, sometimes feels like we are sitting with you in the taxis. The sounds of the outside traffic is captured perfectly, especially the horns. Really wish I was there. My residence is in the UK by the way. Please advice of next podcast. Look forward to it.

    • meterdown Says:

      thank you for the wonderful comment. I often wonder if there is too much ambient sound but its something I have little control over. Most of the time its too hot to ask the drivers to close their windows.

      new podcast just uploaded and blog published. Hope you enjoy it.

      best
      kabi

  16. Glad to have found a fellow podcaster – through the indibloggies, no less. I’m so sad I didn’t come across you before but super to make your acquaintance finally 🙂 Cheers, Chhavi

    • Hi Chhavi. I just visited the Sonologue site. It beautiful. and you have a great voice. lets stay in touch. best kabi

  17. God be with you!
    You are doing a very good job 🙂

    I read through some of your posts and am amazed to see your courage, steadfastness and desire to hear a common person’s story.

    All the Best

  18. […] from Meter Down, a friend’s award-winning blog of interviews with Mumbai taxi […]

  19. Glad to see your blog posts. I too have a short story on a taxi driver on my short story blog: http://unendingstories.blogspot.com.

    John

  20. […] they collect its stories, they are confronted with its changes” – this is part of the introduction page of CubbyKabi's podcast blog “Meter Down” containing conversations with Mumbai taxi […]

  21. sharmila Says:

    Hi
    Would love to write about your blog/podcast venture in our Sunday edition. Have sent you a mail regarding this. It would be great if you could get in touch asap.
    Sharmila

  22. […] from Meter Down, a friend’s award-winning blog of interviews with Mumbai taxi […]

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