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All parked and nowhere to go

Bosses's secrets, bitching sessions and chai. What do drivers talk about while the owner is away? Sonam Savlani finds out.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2007 13:48 IST

If you were to leave your car with the driver for a couple of hours in a fairly busy neighbourhood, chances are that you'll come back to find him missing.

But make a couple of calls, walk up and down the road and he's sure to rush back.

Getting behind the wheel
That's because no matter where you leave the car, your driver finds a friend. They form a community of sorts.

On a sleepy afternoon in Churchgate, where many cars are parked, you'll find drivers sleeping with the AC switched on, or engaged in a chat with the windows rolled up.

One hot afternoon, I spot a group of them in deep conversation in the parking lot near Jai Hind college. Feeling quite envious of their joie de vivre, I walk up to them.

One of them, Deenanath Pandey, philosophises, "Koi pehchaan ya pareshan ho to dosti ho hi jaati hai." (If we spot someone we know or just a guy who seems to be low, we become friends).

Kailash Mishra, another driver adds, "It's a good opportunity to find out from other drivers if there are better jobs going in the market."

Well-kept secrets
Whenever I find a group of drivers in animated conversation, I fancy them spilling secrets carefully guarded by their bosses.

I ask Mishra if that's true. "It depends," he says, thoughtfully, "I don't slander my boss but a bit of juicy gossip doesn't hurt. There was a time when I found out about his extra-marital affair, but I kept mum."

He adds, "I was afraid that if any one of the drivers had mentioned this in passing to their bosses, the situation would have turned ugly ."

Vishwas Sawant moves to a lighter topic and tells me about their regular hang-out, "It's the chai-walla where I can buy my cigarettes. I don't like bidis, you see, they're very rickshaw driver material. I can't stand the smell."

Fighting boredom
Pandey adds, "It gets extremely dull if I don't get to see my friends. You can't expect me to chat up my boss.. he's cordial but I can't treat him like a friend.. plus I can't imagine staying quiet all day long."

Do conversations ever enter murky waters? Do they bitch? "Oh yes, all the time," smiles Pandey, "We don't really mean it. But if we've had a rough day or have been working continuously without getting a day off, then we can really sit and bitch."