My Bombay Is Busy But It's People Like Dubeyji That Make Life Happen Here

Anurag Mathur Anurag Mathur in Stolen Diaries on 19 March, 2020

Whose life have you touched today?

The black and yellow cab screeched to a halt at the curb where I was waiting and Dubeyji peered out of the window. I could see the outline of a lady passenger in the back seat, so I hesitatingly greeted him. His response was way more cheerful - "Namastey sir, just stopped to tell you that my son made it to Google today."

If I have ever experienced shock and awe in one breath, it was then.
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Shock, on the faces of the people next to me trying to decipher what was bigger - the fact that a Bombay cab driver's son had made it to Google or that the cabbie chose to stop and personally deliver the news.

I'll rewind back to a few years ago when I met Dubeyji for the first time as he ferried me home. He'd rescued me after a lot of cabbies had refused the trip from right under my office building. He was from Allahabad he said and he had come to Mumbai in the '70's. After working as a chauffeur for a few years, he had gotten into the taxi trade and now mostly drove the night shifts. It assured him better fares and less traffic, as after midnight, even the local trains and buses shut down till dawn in this city.

My ride was mostly for an hour, and so, to kill boredom, we began conversing. Soon, he became a frequent carrier, arriving at my office closer to my departure, since he knew that the others would say 'No' anyway. A few trips and conversations later, he started telling me about his family- how his eldest son had worked at ICICI bank but had now started a recruitment firm, how his middle child, his married daughter, was a school teacher and his younger son was completing his engineering and a month or so later when we met again, he had a question.

"Do you think my younger son should get a job or pursue an MBA degree?"
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This is always a trick question in a volatile world. The only way to play this ball was to keep the feet together (mind clear) and bring the bat firmly down on the ball (unhesitatingly state your views) finding a gap between the bowler and the fielder (incorporate both perspectives).

So I responded - "I feel he needs to get some work experience while he prepares for his MBA degree, it will also help him finance a part of his studies." Dubeyji beamed as he exclaimed, "Exactly what my daughter told him!"

The pride in his eyes for his daughter's ideas being validated by someone he held in some regard, was very touching. A few years later while dropping me off he said, "I need to hurry home as I have to drop my son to the airport. He leaves for his MBA in an American university today".

Maaaan! If Dubeyji were my age, if he was facing me as he said this - if we were standing face to face, I would have given him a big high five. And then came that day when he stopped his cab to announce his son making it to Google!

As Dubeyji's cab sped past that night, I looked above and said a silent prayer of thanks.
In a world full of resignation and cynicism, there was hope still for those who dared.