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The unusual taxi driver

A chance conversation with the Metro Taxi driver made my day. Having been unwell for some time I did not wish to drive to our friends’ meet and availed the services of Radio Taxi. Contrary to my expectations, the service turned out to be efficient, and unlike the common run-of-the-mill auto/taxi drivers, this boy was not a tapori. I was pleasantly surprised.
As it was a hot summer noon the traffic was thin at Kamala Park that day, and this was another surprise for me. The young boy also commented on how comfortable he felt driving through the place, as the traffic always is choc-a-block and none from the police would be there to manage the traffic. As is always the case with those who are assigned specific duties, traffic police also do the disappearing act at the slightest sign of chaos.
This led to my joining in by saying that it was rather too early for such high temperatures to keep people away from the roads. His comment surprised me further. He said , “Wait and watch till all the greens are wiped out and open spaces are converted into parking lots for vehicles. Then summers will get advanced even further. Minister Saab pagla gaye hain!” This was a direct reference to the news that was hot that day – the one relating to demolition of the heritage structures of the old town, especially the Post office of Jumerati and the Sheesh Mahal, for creation of parking lots for the ever rising number of cars and bikes.
I understood who this was directed to, but decided to keep silence which he took for my agreement. Since he found me to be a good listener he continued to unfold his views. He very correctly narrated what all people in other countries do to preserve their heritage and here we were always ready to destroy it for creating concrete jungles. He even gave reasons for doing so and a very valid one at that. He said that there was much less money in restoration of heritage structures than in erecting new massive ones. He surely was a rare specimen of the new generation.
I was very surprised by the awareness of this young boy and wished his wisdom to percolate to more of his tribe and others of his generation too , especially those who can make a difference to this town. He knew what people did when they went abroad – they do sight-seeing in the older parts of cities they visit. Even here, he said, foreigners always showed their inclination towards the old town and other heritage buildings. They visited Tajul Masajid even if they were non-Muslims. Indians, however, would go shopping or visit places of worship of their own religion. So much for our secular credentials!
By this time I was near my destination and realised that I would have to part with his interesting company. It pained me to see the the disillusionment and cynicism of a generation that is meant to take our country forward.

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Vandana Bagchi

Home Maker/Housewife

Madhya Pradesh ,  INDIA

Born and brought up in Allahabad. Educated in Allahabad and Delhi. Taught in various reputed schools in Delhi, Mumbai and Shillong. Now enjoying retired life in Bhopal

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