This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent (?)
Let’s start with the two central characters. We’ll call them (looking for imaginative names here!) Jai & Veeru, both living at the time of the story in a bustling Indian metropolis. Jai used to run his own private hire taxi service, while Veeru used to work with a mid-sized Indian software firm.
Veeru’s life was a mess. Veeru’s life was on a roll. He was on the path to greatness. Lots of pressure. Climbing the ladder to Corporate Stardom. Late nights at the offfice. Free canteen food. Long meetings. Great atmosphere. Uncountable cups of coffee. 6-monthly increments. No time for family. Annual promotions. No vacations. In short, nothing that any MBA isn’t familiar with.
But there was one perk of his job Veeru really loved. You see he did not earn enough to be able to afford a car. And he had a sleep disorder which led to him sleeping in all moving objects..and quite a few stationary ones. Trains, buses, trams, taxis, sofa-sets, cinema theatres, plays, concerts, classes, meetings, and even auto-rickshaws! Which was why this perk was truly special. If he left office after 10 p.m. (which was 5 nights a week), Veeru could call a cab at company expense!
Then things started going downhill for Veeru. The company’s results turned bad. His boss & mentor left (or was he asked to leave…Veeru couldn’t tell). The pressure at office started going up. The late nights turned into successive mornings when he’d go home for a quick shower & a 30-min nap (of course he slept en route!). The coffee cups started piling up. The paunch started showing. The bosses started commenting on his unshaved, disheveled appearance, and his snoring in review meetings. (!!) The marriage started going downhill. Depression set in. Veeru entertained fantastic notions of escaping it all, leaving his job, divorcing his wife, catching a train to Himalayas, et al.
And then one night as he got into the cab, the driver turned to him & said “Sir, very early today?” (It was only 10.30 pm!) Veeru recognised him. This was Jai, the proprietor of the cab service. “Hello Jai-sa’ab”, he said, “how’s life? Biwi bachche mazey mein?”
Jai smiled, “Sir, as long as you are meherbaan (bountiful), there will be no problems”. Veeru stiffened. He hated flattery (especially the more overt one). Still he had to be polite. “Is mein meherbaani ki kya baat hai, Jai-sa’ab. Aap kaam karte ho aur paise lete ho“. (There’s no special bountifulness Mr. Jai. You do your work. I pay you)
(Tactfully (?!) trying to re-establish a commercial relationship, and move away from this sycophantic talk.
Jai was not to be dissuaded. “No sa’ab. It is all due to you. You can’t know how important you are to me”. This was getting serious. Veeru was alarmed. “Aisa kyun kahte ho aap?” (Why do you say so?) So Jai told his story.
To Be Continued…