Sunday, February 05, 2006

Driving me crazy

Thought it is time to write about all the drivers who have driven me.... nuts. Before you think I am a bigshot who has a personal car and a driver, let me clarify. I am talking about the drivers of the company cabs, in which I spend half of my life on Bangalore roads, commuting to and from office.

Each driver is a specimen, worthy of being immersed in formalin and placed on the shelves of my memory.

There was one fellow, who was so slow that it seemed like the whole world was passing you by. He drove like he was window-shopping on M.G. Road. Not that he was so conscientous and followed traffic rules. He just probably thought that the whole road was his kingdom, and thought he was on an elephant, a king out to survey his country. I used to get home so late that even my poor mom would have lost patience and had her dinner. The last straw was when a bullock cart overtook us. We immediately went and demanded a change in driver for our route. And we got it.

The next guy was the opposite. Probably the supervisor thought, do these people want a fast driver? Here is Schumacher. He zoomed in and out of the traffic like a maniac. I started wondering why 42-seaters mazdas don't have seat belts in each seat. All you could do was just grip the seat in front of you till your knuckles went white, and pray to God to deliver you safely to your doorstep. It was like a roller coaster, where your body turned and twisted with each movement of the cab. Then he would flout traffic rules. He would jump red lights, drive on the wrong side of the road, change lanes, everything possible. And his style of driving was accelerate-brake, accelerate-break. When I started getting RSI in my back, I went up to him and told him politely to go slow. Now he was a huge, well-built man, and he glared back at me and told me, "I just feel sorry that you live so far away from office, and want you to get home early and spend time with your family". Now who could disagree with that logic? Besides I was scared of him. Finally someone made an anonymous call to the company administration department, and told them that he was nearly run down by a cab, and gave the cab number of this guy. The driver was changed, and my life was spared.

Then came a guy who was fond of changing radio stations. He would concentrate more on the radio than on the road. He hated slow, melodious songs, and loved the dhinchak-boom-boom ones. The moment a nice soft song started, I would smile and settle down to listen to it, and he would change the station, and my ears would burst. If there was an ad-break in the next channel, he would change the station again. If he reached a channel which was in the middle of a news-program, he would wait just until the point where the newsreader said - "In Cricket, India playing against Pakistan scored - " Bam. Station change. We used to scream and scream until he heard us over the din of traffic, and then he would change it back, just as the cricket news got over. We could not even sleep. The constant changing of stations was nerve-wracking. We split our throats trying to tell him to stick to one station. And the worst part is, complaining to the cab supervisor about him was not easy either. What do we say? "He is a good driver but he changes radio stations". Duh.

Anyway, we thanked our stars the day a different driver drove us, probably as a stop-gap arrangement. Now most drivers think they know best about roads and directions, which may be true to a certain extent. But this driver had the greatest ego ever. He snapped at us if we tried to show him the route, or tell him to go this way or that way to avoid a signal. I was the last person to be dropped off, and when we reached our area, I wanted to take over and guide him. There was a flyover being built, and the whole place had become a maze of one-ways. Only a person who knew the changes and traveled regularly could find the way. I started giving the driver directions. He ignored me. He did not even acknowledge me, he just drove on.
I said, "Hey listen, listen... you should have taken a left there!"
He said, "I know madam, I know this area, I will take you to your place".
I fell silent. Soon enough, he got lost. He drove back and got stuck in one more one-way. He got totally confused. I tried again.
"Just take a... "
"No! I know the way".
Fine. Suffer. I sat back and enjoyed myself as he took the cab round and round. Then I suddenly realised that I was the one getting late. I tried again.
"Take a right here". I said.
"No, I know madam.." he persisted.
I went, and sat right behind him. I assumed my most menacing tone.
"Do you want to lose your job?" I hissed.
He finally established eye-contact with me.
"No", he said.
"Then take a right here." I continued in the same voice.
He obeyed. Five minutes later, we were at my house. If he had continued on my route, I would have probably complained, but I have never seen him again.

The next driver brought rainbows to our lives. He was the Perfect Driver of your dreams. He was very fast, but not rash. He drove smoothly, followed all traffic rules, found out little streets into which he could manouever his 42-seater and avoid all the major signals. He was polite, friendly, stuck to one radio station ;). He did not lose his cool in the Bangalore traffic. Horns and people shouting did not faze him. He had complete control over his vehicle. AND he got us home 40 minutes before anybody else could. Life was beautiful. But all good things have to come to an end. I got married, moved to another place, and now belong to another cab route. [Note to the hubby: I do not mean to say that I got married and hence all good things came to an end. Well, you know what I mean :)]

But since my new home is much closer to office, commuting time is much lesser. So it hasn't been that much of a problem either. And on some days, to my delight, the perfect driver is assigned to my route, and I reach home at least 15 minutes earlier. Which in itself is such a lovely thing.

Now I am travelling for the next month from my parents' place, and the Perfect Driver is sometimes assigned to this route. And I save 40 minutes on those days. I complimented the Perfect Driver on that, and he told me, "Why don't you ask the supervisor to make me permanent on this route? You can save 40 minutes every day." Now if he is made permanent for this route, he will not come to drive us back to my regular route and I will not be able to save 15 minutes on that route. Now I am in a dilemma. Do I want to save 40 minutes a day for the next 4 weeks, or do I want to save 15 minutes a day intermittently, note, intermittently after the 4 weeks? I have to go now and talk to the cab supervisor..............

18 comments:

Raj said...

My advice : save 40 minutes for the next 4 weeks as long as you are staying with your parents. After 4 weeks continue to use the same van/driver from your parents' place to office. But use a rick to commute between your house and your parents'. You may or may not save time, but you will get to see your parents every day :)

Chetan said...

Hey Shruti,

This is way off-topic, but could you send me your email address by mailing me? My mail address is on my blog. Nothing important, but you appreciate it if you shoot me a mail thanks.

Akanksha said...

i like rajs idea!
but a rick is goin to cost u a lot and who wants to haggle with those buggers!

Shruthi said...

@Chetan: Sure, check your inbox sometime later!

@Raj, Akanksha: Raj's idea is pretty good, IF the distance between my parents' and my house had not been 20 km. Yes. That's distances in Bangalore for you :(
Anyway since there are other people also in the cab, apart from me, their opinion counts too. :)

Manasi said...

I know what you are talking about and so the best option is - drive your own bike/car. I have a bike-pool with my friend and its much easier, safer, tension-free, convenient....... everything. But having seen the Banglore traffic (which considering the traffic in Pune,I should not be saying much. Pune is real bad these days!)I wouldnt dare to imply that you drive a bike. No offence meant, but I was really scared to see the traffic in Banglore!
As far as your present dilemma, hmm....... that is really difficult - idhar kahi udhar kua!

Shruthi said...

@Manasi: The distances and the traffic out here is too much to consider driving your own vehicle! People do try, to start commuting in their own vehicles. But they stop within a week saying, saying "Better to be alive and bored, rather than dead and not-bored".

Supremus said...

Driving in Bangalore - Kabhi nahi!!

Hehheh - I remember my aunt used to tell similar stories about their drivers. She once told me that one of the drivers assigned to their Bus had excellent musical tastes and would often entertain with some songs, esp driving during nights.

Good post

Suyog

Shruthi said...

@Suyog: Now isn't that cool :)

Ravi said...

My suggestion: Take the 40 mins for next 4 weeks. Who knows what is going to happen after 4 weeks? If he is such a good driver, everybody will want him. So use the perfect driver to the max while he is here.

Shruthi said...

@Ravi: Yes, That's what I thought too, initially.. anyway i have left the decision to the regular members of the route!

chitra said...

-/Shruthi
Ha ha hilarious post Shruthi.

Abhinav said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Abhinav said...

A Hilarious reality in Bangalore city....but sleeping in a bus no no never do that no matter how painfully slow/fast the ride is......and yea i wud concur on the seat belts for each setas in Swaraj Mazda,,,,i definately need one when i go home in that crazy bus besides cab drivers never put on their seat belts

Shruthi said...

@Abhinav: True, I have heard of a bad accident that happened to a company bus, and all the people who were sleeping were badly hurt.. but what to do.. u just fall asleep :(

Mridula said...

Shruthi, loved your narration. Any given day I would like someone else to do the driving but I have to do it on my own, luckily I stay quite close to my work place. I still have horror stories to tell.

Shruthi said...

@Mridula: Thanks! And you are so lucky to stay close to your place, the thing is that people who stay close to their workplaces do not really realize how lucky they are! :o
would love to hear ur horror stories :)

Anonymous said...

Hilarious!

Deepali S said...

Huhhh!!!! The driver changing radio stations!!! We too had one such driver.. He didnt liked channels where they aired old kannada/hindi melodies, with soothing music.. He liked the "Chitranna" "Jinge mari Na" and all kinds. Though these songs made us jolly and tap out feet sometimes, but Pleaseeee not always.. I mean atleast not every 10 mins, you hear the same songs in a round robin. It was tough to handle these songs in a ear bursting volume... Shruti how come yar, you really speak your mind out.. All your blogs are so real and they relate every person in one or the other way!! I read blogs where they seem super intelligent, the author would have given many exhibits, examples to prove his/her points. But they dont impact to the degree to which your blogs impact me. Great Going!!! Dont stop blogging... Thanks a Ton!!!

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