The husband had a school reunion – which in my priorities of life is way up there, somewhere way above back seat driving and just a notch below spending an evening drinking with good buddies.
We left home together, I took a cab from half the way to meet our friends, and he was to join later.
We stopped our car, next to a taxi driver. He was staring ahead. And he was rocking himself mumbling something.That itself should have deterred me! Nevertheless he agreed to go to our destination and I got into the cab.
Oh! Man. The man was a certified maniac. He drove of at top speed and screeched to a halt at the next signal. Then he tried to weave his way between three cars. Yes!! Truly! I’m not joking. He was hallucinatory – because he kept thinking he was driving not a car but a road racer cycle with wheels no broader that 5 mm. He kept backing up and trying to squeeze his car in between whatever he could squeeze it between, cycles,car, hawkers, bus, ambulance, the wind!
At one point he over took three cars, not one after the other but all at the same time. They were all driving next to each other, keeping to their lanes. “This wont do!” he thought, and with a surge of adrenalin, he vigorously changed the gear of his car, and took off, over taking all three cars, till I realised I am on the other side of the road, – the wrong side. I screamed and lamented, but the bizarre man, just shrugged it off saying there were no cars on the other side and its ok to use that road. Thats when I started reciting the Hanuman Chalisa.
After many such sudden rocket launching type take offs, and race car type skidding halts, we reached the bottom of Malabar Hill. Now Malabar Hill, is actually a small hill. Not like those fancy streets named Brooks Hill, where you see neither a brook nor a hill!
The climb is pretty steep. When I directed him to take the left to the top of the hill, he just paused at the bottom of the hill. Seeing his hesitation, I asked him if his car will make it. In answer he grunted, rocked back and front twice, took a deep breath, and launched his car. In his mind he roared “Jai Bajrang Bali, aaj to tu dikha de isko!!’ (Salutions Oh! Monkey God, today you show this woman what I am capable of!)
He was hoping there would be no other car ahead of him, and that he could take off at the same gear without having to stop his car. Unfortunately, cars kept coming up ahead of him, and he had to keep halting. That man did not take his legs off the accelerator, and whenever he had to stop he would pull the the hand brake – with the same ferocity he used to change gears. His entire body would jerk with either action. As a result the tyres would keep spinning even when the car had halted. My prayers went up with even more fervour.
Finally when we reached the top of the hill, his car slowed down in direct proportion to his and my own heart beat. Two minutes later we stopped at our destination. I scuttled out of the car,and peered through the window and asked his final fare. With a weak voice and a giant pause, he gave me the amount.
I went away happy to be in one piece. Just once I turned around to see what he was doing. He was slumped against the seat, rocking back and forth, very relieved to know – I am sure – that he did not have to push his car uphill.