Archive for bomb blasts

episode 28 tanaji

Posted in bombay, hindi, podcast, taxi, taxi story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16, April 2012 by meterdown

It admittedly was awhile ago. After the last bomb blast. My work travel continues to deplete both my time and that extra amount of energy it takes to create. When i’m depleted, I’d rather just read. Mind feed. I was at Fort, getting printer ink and since the store is almost next to Yazdani’s, brun-maska and chai, and since Strand is near by, a browse for sustenance. And a purchase or two. I realize that a few of these conversations have started from this point. Sheshnath Tripathi. Rafiq. But this time it is Tanaji. He is Maharashtrian, from around Kolhapur. We went past VT and up Mohammad Ali Road flyover. We were deep into conversation as he openly shared about his life and arrival, when, somewhere after the Byculla flyover, I noticed that the telltale red light on the recorder wasn’t on. Somehow I hadn’t pushed start hard enough or perhaps I had pushed it twice. I turned it on and the conversation starts with this already established comfort and participation in, together, recovering this lost ground so we can continue our conversation. Click on ‘tanaji podcast’ link below to stream or right click to download. (35 min 40 sec)

tanaji podcast

tanaji: meriku bombay bahut pyara hai

This was a frisky conversation. It maybe because of the way it started, with the misfire. We became accomplices in recreating the energy  that wasn’t recorded at the beginning. Capital punishment, Kasab, Osama Bin Laden, the response of the USA, love marriage, the natal family’s responsibility towards an unhappy or endangered married daughter. Tanaji and I don’t agree on anything but the discussion is thoughtful and friendly. I had no ready answer for the point he made that keeping political prisoners, or terrorists, in jail creates the vulnerability to hijacks or kidnappings where the prisoner is the barter. Here is the answer: This is no justification for capital punishment.


Tanaji is a 12th pass, HSC. He came to Bombay with the hope of a good job. But his real dream was to become a mechanic and open a garage. He took a course and got a certificate. He tried to open his garage, he found a place, but there was no money so success nahin hopaya. He can fix engines, he can fix cars. He says that if he had a garage or two today his life would be different. He might not have to be in a taxi. He might have a small flat of his own. The ‘haves’ in this country, say that their success was earned on merit and their honest sweat. Metaphorical sweat to be sure. It is hard to work up a sweat between the AC home to the AC car to the AC office, mall, store, restaurant and back. Out at the boundary, away from the pitch, the field looks different. It is full of khaddas and divets and strewn with pebbles and the ball takes these funny hops away, in random directions, this ball of opportunity. It has always seemed to be that amongst the people with privilege, and I include myself, even the most mediocre of us can find success in the world. Not so the rest, even for the most modest of dreams. (1 min 40 sec)

outtake peheli ka kwahish

While we were talking Tanaji got a phone call. It was one of his regular customers that calls to book his taxi sometimes for his morning ride. A short trip in Vile Parle to somewhere in Vile Parle, but it is near Tanaji’s home and it starts his day well. Many of the taxi drivers have these regular customers. Even today, or perhaps even more so today, in this time of Meru and Mega and Easy cabs. (2 min 33 sec)

outtake phone call regular customer

So what about this conversation of ours, especially about our daughters, our endangered daughters returning home. I still think that Tanaji was making a majak with me, he was kidding me, when he said let them burn her. Wait til his daughter, the one who he speaks of so fondly, the one who is so smart and is showing so much promise, leaves his home to join another. Hopefully his patriarchal posturing will melt away. Adjustments are made to the cultural rigidities that attempt to deny women the safety of return.  I only hope that his daughter, unlike so many other dutiful daughters, will realise this instead of enacting upon herself that ultimate act of hopelessness. Or stay silent and suffer, so as not to give tension to her parents, until her susaral log enact that ultimate act upon her.

In this conversation, the taxi union had just called off a strike. The government agreed to take on the idea of increasing fares and the unions. Today both auto and taxi unions are calling for strikes. The taxi union had declared 2 May for the Maharastra wide strike. The government responded by agreeing to form a new taxi trade fare committee as the union had claimed that the old Hakim committee formula was 15 years old and outdated. As of yet, the strike has not be called off. I certainly support their demand for higher fares, both the taxis and the autos. Especially the autos. In my latest round of travels, namely Coimbatore, Cochin, Chennai. Jaipur and Bangalore, our Bombay rickshaws are the cheapest. and rigged meters or not, at least they down the meter and return the change unasked. CNG is going up, food prices are going up, inflation is holding steady at just under double digits (they say). People need to eat. They need not to be making less money than they were last year or last week.

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


episode 13 junaid

Posted in bombay, hindi, migration, podcast, taxi with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 17, August 2008 by meterdown

Raining in Bombay, finally again after a month long disappearance. It was the monday evening after the Ahmedabad bombings and after a weekend of heavy rains. The city felt wet and still and it glistened in the street lights. I was at Kala Ghoda. The first driver I spoke to flatly refused saying he couldn’t drive in the rain and talk at the same time. I went ahead a few taxis and found Junaid. He is from Gujarat, from the Chiliya community. Many of the drivers had spoken about the Chiliya log, that they were the original taxi drivers when taxis first came to Bombay. Sagir Bhai’s taxi ka seth was Chiliya. The drivers had all praised the them, saying they were honest, jyada baat nahin karte, and kam se kam. But Junaid is 23 and he likes to talk. The smile on his face….you can hear it in his voice. Click on link below to stream or right click to download. (26 min 01 sec)

junaid podcast

Junaid: Kismat mein jitna rehta, itna milta

The dance bars are as much a part of this city as the red buses or kaali-peeli taxis. If a film has a dance bar scene, it signals the setting is Bombay. This outtake is the rest of the conversation about the dance bars Junaid doesn’t frequent. I asked him about the women that danced in the bars. His thoughts intrigue me because they don’t touch on morality, the good or bad of the women. (3 min 50 sec)

outtake bars and bar girls

The next three outtakes are one flow of conversation that due to length, I divided up and are in order from the beginning to end. In Junaid’s village, the girls aren’t married until they are in their late teens or early twenties. But the sagai is arranged years before. Junaid doesn’t think this is right and he explains why. (1 min 42 sec)

outtake jaldi sagai achha nahin

From sagai accha nahin to ladki accha nahin. The ladki is the woman Junaid is engaged to be married to in 8 months. But it isn’t Junaid saying accha nahin. It is his neighbors and his family. His feelings are soft and warm and protective. and determined. (2 min 17 sec)

outtake ladki acchhi nahin

Kismat runs through this podcast. In this outtake Junaid elaborates and embroidered into the fabric of his thoughts is a silken thread of defense of his wife-to-be. (54 sec)

outtake kismat

I ask about the leaving from home and the coming into the city. I ask about what has been left behind and how that left behind is experienced, this continuum of inhabiting here and inhabiting there. Junaid speaks of the Chiliya community in the village and I hear the story of gaon mein aisa hai and traces of sheher mein aisa nahin hota. We all have our stories of adaptation, in large ways and incremental ways, to the complexities of our lives in these times. (1 min 46 sec)

outtake chiliyan gaon mai aisa hai

The men are away working and the villages are full of women raising the children. I have wondered about that, especially about the boy children. I asked Junaid what advice he would give a 12 year old from his village that wanted to come work in Bombay. His answer gives thought to my wondering.

outtake 12 saal ka ladka

I haven’t posted in a long time. I was travelling through Spain and then back overland through Turkey, Syria and then flight to Peshawar and through Pakistan to Wagah, Amritsar and Golden Mail back to Bombay. I didn’t ride in any taxis, but I have this photo of a taxi dashboard in Damascus.

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