Apr 18, 2015

A tete-a-tete with the driver

Image result for malaysia taxiThe one aspect of travel i like the most is interacting with the commoner or Aam aadmi in Indian vocabulary. It is the people and not the man made structures which make a place interesting.  I had a chance to talk to a taxi driver in KL, Malaysia who happened to be 4th generation Indian settled in Malaysia. As a practice, I never ask name of the commoner for their stories does not change much with the name. He seems to be a passionate India follower and a biannual visitor to India. Like many of the discussion about India with commoners who have visited India, he also like two aspects of India: Its villages and then the food variety. He seems to take a break from his hectic city life in a small village in Thiruvanamalai in Tamil Nadu. He has an uncle who has settled there. 
I then turned to things he does not like in India. They were three Cs: Cleanliness, Cities and Corruption. If you have stayed so long in such a wonderfully planned city like Kuala Lampur it is understandable why one would loath about a city like Chennai. I did not delve in detail on this aspect as i had a limited time before he drops me at the metro station.

The second aspect was Corruption and he explained to me with an anecdote. It seems he was travelling to Kerala to visit some temple and as who knows issue with tickets from/to Kerala he was unable to get a ticket. He had a waiting list ticket and he did not know that it is illegal to travel in waiting list ticket. The ticket inspector (called TT) caught him and asked for a fine of 3000/-. I am not sure if the fine (Rs 250) and ticket charge adds up to it as i did not ask the start and end station and in which class it was. Assuming it is true, he called up his uncle and asked if the rates are so high. He suggested giving Rs 100 and settling it with TT. It seems his very young son did not allow him to settle it and wanted to pay the charge in full and get a receipt as well. The protagonist did that and he said it proudly to me. May be we and younger lot should use this example to clean up as corruption always need two people: one who takes it and others who is willing to pay.

The third aspect was on cleanliness. We all know this very well in India and now there is a national campaign to fix it under Swatch Bharat. His anecdote for this was that his uncle was cribbing about it and then was throwing thrash out of the window. He asked uncle not to do it even through there was no thrash can and asked him to carry it home and drop it. He then showed his thrash in car which he carries back home in KL daily. This again need people to be sensitive about this aspect.

I also strangely find these as the key issue BJP government at center has taken on priority. Even the taxi driver in Malaysia hope PM Modi (he seems to be tracking Modi as he told him by name) will be able to do it but will take time. The popularity of Modi outside India is the testament how his vision addresses the perceived problem as seen by NRI/PIOs . He though does not seem to know the advantage of holding a PIO card but seems to hold some land as a share in uncle's property. Hopefully few of them may then turn investor bringing in jobs in India. But surely a long haul for a visible result.

As usual i alight from the car without asking his name but by bidding farewell to meet again sometime in future. 

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