On Diwali, we sat discussing drivers. Why? Well, can you ever understand what direction a mithaai-fuelled conversation with colourful lights in the background takes? In my home, no. We move from adulterated sweets to Swiss bank accounts as smoothly as butter does on the aloo paranthas that nani makes on these wintry Delhi mornings. So when the conversation steered towards drivers, I tied my seatbelt.
There was one fellow who believed in efficiency. Only, no one else could believe in his. He sped through corners and glided over speed-breakers. When one fine day the car screeched to a halt at a hair’s length from a full-sized truck, all he said was “did that scare you?” Even the giggle sounded neurotic. Then there was another one who would drive around to restaurants for lunch. Dad stepped into the office lift and the car exited from the car park. Afternoons would be about a mission – which is the best eatery around town? “Isn’t the car consuming more petrol than usual?” “I think it’s alright. There’s been much traffic lately.” All was hunky dory until one fine morning when Dad looked out the window and there was the car, gracefully going past the gate. That put an end to the eatery-locating-mission.
We once had a jeeju-saala pair as cleaners. They would shift roles on alternative mornings and were, for the most part, good at their job. The younger one went missing one day – I could never figure out if he was the jeeju or the saala for they looked the same and of similar age. That night, the other guy came knocking at our gate at ten in the night. “I needed payment for cleaning.” “Come tomorrow morning.” nani announced. He gave her a genial smile and walked away. Only to return ten minutes later. “I needed payment for cleaning.” He announced. Dad and I attended to the car the next day, equipped with soap, water and a mop.
I am not much of a car person. I sit nicely in the back seat when Dad drives and switch FM channels with a remote. I watch the trees and buildings slide by when it gets dark, along with the moon. There isn’t privacy when you have a driver. Unless you get on good terms with him but then, Delhi doesn’t present a neat showcase when it comes to driver-car-owner relationships. So my being wary may not be a bad idea.
When the plateful of Diwali goodies ran out, I walked to the kitchen to dump the plate. I also did a mini jig and jog on the way. You see, driver or no driver, I don’t really fancy tyres.