Triple threats

Our (or rather, Balu’s) Tata Indica car broke down early this morning. It was only a matter of time. His car looked like a wounded solider returning home from ‘The battle of Bombay street traffic’: the side view mirrors are neatly bandaged, but hanging on for dear life. This tiny vehicle has no shock absorption, resembles the shade of a spray tan gone wrong (not quite orange, not quite bronze), but part of me has become attached to seeing this little orange-bronze bundle ‘tut tut’ its way up to the entrance of our building. Upon exiting a store, I breathe a small sigh of relief at seeing Balu’s car and knowing I’ve reached home base.

Balu didn’t seem bothered by his car’s death and went to work like a proper mechanic as though he done this many times over. I stood aside in amazement watching him calmly attempt to revive his car’s battery. Balu is a talented man. ‘Driver’ simply does NOT do justice to his mass skill set. A driver in India means you not only transport people around in a car and listen to incessant passenger conversation, but also function as a tour guide and mechanic, as needed of course. Balu, the driver-tour guide-mechanic. I wondered how that would look on a business card…

Change of plans: instead of a Bandra-Santa Cruz trip we would stay local. M and I went out about our business heading to Chembur station in an autorikshaw.

After completing our list-of-things-do, we again headed back home in an auto. Our auto-driver was swerving all over the place, when he suddenly hit the brakes. A car was backing out of a driveway and the coolie (security guard) of the building had signaled the auto to halt. M and I flew forward slamming onto the auto-drivers back, the auto hit the coolie and the car hit the rik. A three-way accident, luckily no one was injured. The auto-driver got out and exchanged some loud angry words in Marathi to the car’s driver. The driver got out of his car. They both assessed the damage: none to the auto, a huge dent in the car. The two men (three, including the coolie), had a good laugh. Auto-man got back in the auto, turned to look at M & I, and continued onward to our home. M and I found this exchange to be hilarious because in the States what was a 3 min occurrence in India would take 3 hours in America: police report, exchanging insurance and driver info, etc.

The driver explained, “Madam, this is India.” Sir, you are correct.