If you had been a night shift employee, who traveled at least 30 kms one way to reach office, then you will probably understand when I talk about the bonding with car drivers. Even in a city like Chennai, where the evening traffic is mild and the nights are hassle free, you would have to spend at least three hours with them every day. After few months, if you have had the luck of travelling in the same cab everyday, you will end up developing a special bond with the cab drivers.
I had quit the job as night shift took toll on my health and appearance. It had been three months. Today, Mom had an early flight to catch. I had booked her in a five thirty flight to Mumbai for a training. That means, she should be in the airport by four thirty and we should start from home by three thirty or three forty five. The chances of getting a taxi was very low. I just made one call to the cab driver who had driven me to my old office. There was no need to remind him again. He was at the door step sharp at three thirty. And the best part was he didnt charge me too.
“For Old times’ sake sir” he told me.
His name is Vikram, whose car I almost considered mine. A late night party? Call Vikram. New Year Eve celebration at friend’s place? Call Vikram. He would patiently sit in the car, while I party away. I have never seen him frown.
While I was travelling to office in his cab, I got the special treatment. I got along with most of the cab drivers. I was able to relate to their problems as I was one of them few years before. Not as a driver, but as a friend of a driver. They loved me. Also I was never late. I would be ready at the door step, when it was time and my cab drivers had rarely waited for me. So my route was their favorite. Vikram knew what I would like and what I would not. He never let anyone sit beside him, even I was not the first person to get in the car. When I became the first person to get in the cab, the seat next to him would be adjusted and inclined to fit me the way I like it.
Just after we turn at my street, after we made sure, my father who would come till the door to send me off everyday has gone back in, he would hand me a cigarette and light it for me. It was something that was banned for everyone else except for me. I have seen him asking managers to put off their cigarettes before they get into the car. The car was the first thing, he bought on his own. He loved it.
We had done many crazy things together. We would go in search of piping hot idlies and pongal by three in the morning in the weekends. He knew that I couldnt sleep in the weekends because of the routine and had always picked me up for a long drive or a cup of tea or just for some idlies. We had bought the DVDs of MGR classics like Anbe Vaa, Enga Veetu Pillai, Nadodi Mannan and drove around the city till the movies got over. We would go slow, or take a turn around before reaching our home if the radio was playing my favorite song.
Once dad went for a funeral and there was nobody at the house when I started to office. Dad made sure I have my coffee everyday before I get into the car. So I decided to make it myself. I kept the milk in the stove and sat browsing my Facebook. Before I knew, the cab was home and I locked the door and left in the cab. I realized this after almost five kilometers. i told him about this and I expected some reaction in his face. A little frown, A sigh or something. He just turned the cab and we were racing to our house. We reached our home in less than three minutes. Nothing happened as I had kept the stove in sim. I cant imagine what would have happened if it didn’t strike me about the milk. The best part was we picked up all others on time and reached office on time too.
Today, when I dropped Mom in the domestic terminal and got back to the seat, there was a cigarette and matchbox. The seat was adjusted to my taste. I lighted it when we came down the bridge. It feels good, when someone remembers your preference.
“When is mom coming back?” he asked.
“Friday. I will not be in town. ” I said.
“I will see if I can get leave that day. I will pick her up”
The city looked beautiful at night. The neon lights raced back. It was a beautiful moment.
These are few things which money can’t buy.. for everything else.. Well! You don’t need it.