My office was earlier located at Hiranandani, Powai. So a bunch of us used to meet up at Kanjurmarg station, and try and get a Rick-wallah to take us to Hiranandani. And that was no mean task! Sometimes we have had to wait for 15 minutes, trying to persuade a Rick-wallah to agree to take us to our destination. And in the process we have received some of the dirtiest looks from many a Rick-wallah! It’s like they are thinking, “How dare you even ask me that question?!”
Or some put on a really pensive expression on their face, trying to decide, I guess, upon the pros and cons of taking us to our destination! And in the end, most of these “Mr. Pensives” shake their head regretfully and zoom away, leaving us gagging on the fumes! One of my friends, RT says that it’s like we are asking them to marry us, and that’s why they have such ponderous expressions on their faces!
Some also give us explanations for why they would rather not take us, “Nahi mai-dum, wahan bahut traffic rehta hai. (No ma’m, there is too much traffic in that area).”
But the craziest incidents have occurred when the big bosses of our company decided to change the office location to SV road. It has to be one of the worst areas in Mumbai! It is tiring just getting to this place because of the massive traffic jams, which we have to endure every single day.
Anyway, two of my friends, JJ, RT and I decided to meet up at GTK station every morning to “rick” it to office. As usual most of the Rick-wallahs would either give us dirty or apologetic looks, or just ignore everyone trying to hail them down and speed away. Most of the times the Rick-wallahs who agree to take us to SV road, have never heard of it!
And getting back to GTK station is just as bad! One Rick-wallah had actually said, “Woh manhoos jagah kaun jayega?! (Who will go to that god-forsaken place?)”
An “incident” occurred on the very first day that we took this route. All three of us were talking non-stop. When we had stopped at a signal, the Rick-wallah, a rather thin, stern-looking man, suddenly turned around and to our utter shock said, “Aap log kitni baat kar raheein hai! Thodi der ke liye chup ho jaeeye, sab dekh rahein hai!! (You people are talking so much! Please be quiet for sometime, people are looking!!)” We were left speechless by this outburst! I actually looked around to see if anyone was actually looking in!
JJ was the first to recover and said that we can’t help if people look, and we continued our conversation, but in lowered tones.
Another incident occurred after we had discovered a less congested route to SV road. It is simply referred to as Pipeline road, as a huge pipe runs down its entire length. It is quite narrow and passes through a market place. So we would direct all the Rick-wallahs to take us through this road.
One time, as usual, we told the Rick-wallah to take the Pipeline road. He turned to go towards the place, but overshot the tiny opening of the lane. We all shouted, “Bhaiyya (Brother)! Pipeline road! Left turn!” only to have him brake hard. He looked resolutely ahead, shook his burly head and stated, “Market se to main kabhi nahi jaaoonga (I will never go through the market!” We tried to convince him saying that we take this route everyday and that it is always traffic free. To which he demanded for us to get out! He was behaving like a petulant child and I was convinced that at any moment he would jump out of the auto, stamp his foot and throw a tantrum!
So we just sat there for a few seconds, after which I said, “Ok, at least turn around and take the other route.” He sullenly turned around his vehicle and we trundled down the regular route. But he seemed to be quite angry and began driving quite rashly, as if to punish us for our impertinence! But we did reach office in one piece!
Another time a really funny incident occurred. This time we were going back to GTK station from office. The Rick-wallah this time looked barely 18 years old. My friend RT, who is (or rather was!) a big Abhishek Bachchan fan, was a bit upset that he had gotten married, and stated that he should not have "done the deed". The Rick-wallah piped in just then and said, “Par Abhisek ki saadi nahi huyee hai (Abhishek has not gotten married).” All of us were quiet for a while, and I wondered if I had heard right. As RT and JJ weren’t sure of what he said either, JJ asked him what he had said. He once again said, “Par Abhisek ki saadi nahi huyee hai”. So JJ said, “Yeh log Abhishek Bachchan ki baat kar rahein hai (They are talking about Abhishek Bachchan)”. To which he reacted as if he had had an epiphany, “Ohh! Aap Abhisek Bachchan ki baat kar rahi hai! Mera naam bhi Abhisek hai, aur meri saadi nahi huyee hai! (You are talking about Abhishek Bachchan! My name is also Abhishek, and I am not married yet!)”
At this I dissolved into giggles, especially on seeing the look on RT’s face! She looked like she had been slapped! Abhisek Rick-wallah had left her speechless, which is an achievement in itself!
Sadly, since the past few months our little auto misadventures have all but stopped. The office has started a bus service. JJ has moved to another city, while RT is going to leave for another country soon. I’m going to miss these two girls and our auto rides...