Chalna hai Dwarka?
Nahi Madam, Bhada hai!
And that would be enough to make my temper soar, and what would follow then would be an enriching drama, much to the amusement of the onlookers. This used to be the usual trend whenever I tried to catch an auto back home in Delhi. No autowala would be ready to ferry me as the distance was short.
No amount of cajoling or throwing lines like, ‘I know the DSP of this area’ would yield any results. Everyday, I would be on the road fretting for about half an hour, until an autowala would sympathize and offer me a ride at extra charges. Having no option, I would agree. Let me add here that some days I would even have to walk long distances to locate an autowala, who would then refuse to go. I faced this situation for a good 3 to 4 years, after which I began using my car, vowing never to take auto rides.
Now imagine my frustration when I shifted to Mumbai and had to again catch an auto for work. I almost thought of not taking up the job for this reason. However, the undying spirit that Mumbai is famous for made me think otherwise. I mulled upon the fact that people here would get up early in the morning, finish their household chores and rush to catch over-crowded trains that would take them to their destination in one to one-and-half hours. Not to mention the heat! When they could be nonchalant about all these efforts, couldn’t I brave myself to catch an auto?
I could, but there was a difference.
In a train journey, you could rant on your co-passengers – for burping right into your face or for that enthusiastic push which made you lose your balance or for constantly stepping on your feet. Then, there was always this comfort that you would be reaching your destination on time and who could take it away from you that you are travelling by the fastest means of commute in Mumbai.
While, with an auto, you are left frustrated because most of the times you feel you are being cheated. The moment they say bhada hai, you know they are lying as they don’t want to take that route. The feeling of being subjected to something ‘unjust’ is what becomes unbearable.
First day of work
Gearing up for the usual round of arguments and vehemently promising myself to maintain my cool, I stepped out of my apartment to find an auto. I found couple of them standing. Oh! this means I don’t have to walk long distances trying to locate one. Good omen to begin with.
Did he just say Haan Madam. Am I dreaming? Oh My God, here is an auto driver who have agreed for a ride in the first instance. I was jubilant. Small joys of life.
Next day I waked down wondering if I would be as lucky as yesterday. I heard someone call – Madam, idhar. I turned and it seemed to be the same person who ferried me yesterday. I got in smiling. This continued and I got to know that the driver’s name is Satpal. I thanked him for agreeing to the small distance.
He said, Arrey madam, aap acchha bhada ho! “The first day I dropped you, I earned very well,” he continued.
I could not help being a little shocked – me a bhada !!!
On days when I would walk down, the other autowalas would shout, Satpal, bhada ageya hai or yeh madam Satpal ka bhada hai. Once when Satpal was on leave, I could hear an autowala persuading the other saying – madam ko le chalo, accha bhada hai.
For long, I was confused whether to be angry at being called a bhada or to be amused at the sheer audacity of the situation. But then I chose to be amused, for it is not everyday that autowalas think you are a good omen and agree to short distances. Moreover, from bhada hai to accha bhada hai, I have come a long way!