Tuesday, December 27, 2005

journeying to work

the 29th of October, 2005.

The autowallah stopped, considered, and asked for seventy.

I said fifty five. He came down to sixty. I didn't budge.

There was a tense standoff for a minute or so, the traffic raced past, and finally he relented.

the auto started, moving north towards Lodi Road.

- You won't give me five more rupees?
- No.

We reached the long crowded traffic light at Purana Qila.

- When did the earthquake happen in Pakistan?
- Just afted Dussehra,wasn't it? Dussehra was the twelfth night?
- Did all of Pakistan get destroyed?
- No, not all.
- It should have.
- Why? Have you ever been there?
- Who wants to go to a land full of Katuas?
- I've been there. They treat Indians very well. You get VIP treatment as an Indian in Pakistan.
They don't take money from you anywhere.
- Really? They don't take money in shops?
- They don't.

Pragati Maidan passed, we were now on the Ring Road heading to ITO.

- How many Hindus are there in Pakistan?
- Very few. There are Hindus and Sardars and Christians. Most of the Hindus are near Karachi.
Pakistan's top fashion designer is Hindu - Deepak Perwani.
- They should exchange all the Hindus in Pakistan with all the Musilms in India.
- Why? What's wrong with Muslims?
- Just seeing them makes me feel... they all speak so rudely.
- Where do they speak so rudely?
- Right here in Delhi. They call out 'Ai' so rudely when I am driving. They have absolutely no manners.
- Do the Punjabis have manners?
- No, but at least the Punjabis are our people, of our kind/caste/self. (How can you translate Hamari Jaat ke hain?)
- If sanjay Gandhi was around he'd have taken care of the Muslims.
- If sanjay Gandhi was around he'd have cut everyone's off.
- No, he was more concerned about the Muslims. He was cutting of more of theirs.

We crossed the ITO Bridge, Firoz Shah Kotla on our right.

- Where are Mecca and Madina?
- saudi Arabia.
- Saudia? There are Muslims there?
- There are only Muslims there.
I mean, there are lots of workers there from India and Europe but the locals there are all Muslims.
In other parts of the Middle East there are many Arab Christians as well as Jews, but in Saudi Arabia
I think there are only Muslims.
- saudi Arabia has a very strong currency, no?
- I think so.
- How much to a rupee?
- I don't know. But the currency of Dubai is 18 rupees to one dirham.
- What is the strongest currency in the world. It must be America's.
- Well actually I think it's Britian's?
- Where is Britain?
- England. Their pound is about eighty rupees. And one roti in a restaurant costs three pounds.
- Two fifty rupees for a roti?
- Two fifty rupees for a roti.
- Then that's the place to go to. Are there any Muslims there?
- Brother, you can't go anywhere in the world today where you won't find any Muslims, or Sardars, or Hindus.
the world has become such that you find everyone everywhere.

We passed the Red Fort and ISBT, and reached Rajpur Road.
I handed him sixty rupees.
- Keep the sixty rupees. I don't want you to say that he paid me less becuase he is a Musalman.
My name is Khushzaheen Khan. I hope you will find katuas less disgusting now.

I did not wait to see what he might say.
Though I suspect there was nothing he could.
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