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Of Rickshaw Conversations and Sunny Leone

#WHATELSE Travel Parth Shahanand • January 11, 2017
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My father and I believe that all auto-rickshaw drivers must undergo some secret initiation ritual to become the worst drivers that exist on the roads of the city. While I share his hatred and frustration with these three-wheeler death agents, I’m also amazed by the sheer variety of the types of auto drivers.

There are grumpy drivers, who just won’t go anywhere you ask them; there are the over-obedient ones who nod their heads vigorously at every little instruction you give them; there are the inquisitive ones who ask “Left loon ya right?” at every single turn. But the ones that capture my attention the most are the talkative ones!

Never missing a chance to blab about myriad topics ranging from the weather to the political scenario; from the country’s disrepair to trash talking about their own brethren; these are the ones I seek a ride with. I’m all ears for what this species has to say and it often leads to humorous situations because of their (more often than not) misinformation.

One such incident happened today as I waited in the innards of Chembur for a rickshaw to take me home in Ghatkopar. A guy, balding and heavyset, was waiting a few feet away from me to catch one before me. As one empty auto approached us, I hoped the guy wouldn’t land it. And land he did not, what are the odds! As soon as he wrung the meter down, the driver went off like a boom box. (Well, boom box won’t be the right word for him, considering that his voice was in a register higher than Sachin Tendulkar’s.) Anyway, he said “Woh taklu mereko Sakinaka jaane bola. Main mana kar diya bhai, saala kitna trephik hota hain udhar.” (A word of note, I asked him to take me to Ghatkopar East, which he very gladly obliged to.)

I participate in such short conversations while I travel alone, just to get a good laugh later, as we’ll probably have in a few moments. So, I replied, “Abhi tum sab aisa bologe toh fir public ko kaise chalega? Ghatkopar east se bhi west jaane ko mana kar dete hain.”

Auto guy: 17 saal se riksa chala raha hu bhai, jooth nai bolega. Ghatkopar west shuru hote hi itna trephik hota hain ke sala dimaag kharab ho jata hain.”

This I agreed with. Ghatkopar west is the worst possible place and one even hell would think twice before competing with.

There was some silence till we reached the bridge connecting Chembur to Amar Mahal. Right on the bridge, auto guy went off again, “Aap woh Ragini MMS dekha hain kya?” At first, I was taken aback by the sudden directness of his question. After I regained my composure a bit, I replied, “Kaunsa wala?”

Auto guy: Kaunsa matlab? Kitna hain?

Me: Do.

Auto guy: (total amusement on his face) DO HAIN!?

Me: Haan, dono nahi dekhe. Horror movies pasand nahi hain.

Auto guy: Bhoot wala hain kya? Woh Sunny Leone bhootni hai usme?

Me: Pata nai, lekin woh picture me hai utna pata hai.

*a short pause, in which it appeared he was calculating his thoughts*

Auto guy: Yehhhh…. Sunny Leone BP me kaam karti thi kya?

Me: Haan, America wala.

Auto guy: Uska CD milega kya?

If the earlier question took me off-guard, this one totally sent me reeling! And the way he asked me with such boldness and nonchalance, boy, this was a risk-taker! Asking a 24-year-old guy about porn. Well, not that much of a risk. If it were a girl he was asking all this, this post would’ve been rendered redundant because of this morning’s newspapers. Anyway, I replied, “CD wale ko puch lo aap. Hum toh internet se dekh lete hain, CD ka zamana gaya hamare liye.”

Auto guy: Aisa kya? Acha hain aapko. Puchna padega CD ka. Waise apni Sunny idhar ki hai ya udhar ki?

Me: (not sure about the ‘apni’ part) Indian hi hai, lekin wahan pe pali badhi hai. Fir wahin ke ek porn director ke sath shaadi kar li usne.

Auto guy: Acha woh gora uska pati hai kya? Acha hain, BP me kaam karo aur banane wale ke sath saadi banao!

Man! This one was so interested in researching his porn. I was just barely able to hold my amusement. As we stopped outside my society, he dropped a final one on me before he handed me the change. He went, “CD se hi majja lena padta hai bhai. Ragini MMS dekhne jaane ko tem nai milta!” He drove off, leaving me staring at the back of his rickshaw, clutching loose change in my fist.

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