My mother in law once told me that most housemaids in Mumbai are called Laxmis and most of the drivers called themselves Raju. Her theory is right when it comes to maids but it is the Rajus that I am going to talk about in this space. Obviously I don't drive so I have to depend on Rajus and over the years I have had many of them and each one has been an eclectic personality in his own right. While I take pride in retaining the oldest clinic and home staff from the time I began,the driving driver force has been an ever changing aspect and a frustrating one at that.A few particularly interesting ones my family can never forget...
Raju no. 1- Lasted 2 years.
Pet peeve-sleeping on duty,body odor,absconding to his desh every yr for 4-5 summer months
Good natured fellow,but would sleep through duty hours thanks to his night duty as watchman elsewhere.BO was taken care of by my son through constant reminders of bath,threats of confiscating his favorite chameli ka tel (which he sincerely thought would impress us) and gifts of .deos .He finally went back to his family back home ,and is sleeping on duty somewhere in Moradabad .Raju no.2 -Lasted 4 years
Fiercely loyal,extremely skilled driver,he was the best of the lot.He had this uncanny ability to appear in all our photographs!All the snaps during that period have him in a far corner with a corner of his 'rumaal' pressed between his teeth.Mumbai weather took a toll on his health and he too relocated to Hyderabad.
Raju no.3-Lasted 2 days
pet peeve-too short a time to know
He was a parking lot driver who turned overconfident little too soon.My cars have bruised bums thanks to him driving right into the wall in reverse. Saw him at a mall a few days back .
Raju no.4-Lasted 15 days
pet peeve-Forgetting his way around..
He would reach any destination but would invariably get lost on his way back. Tried understanding how and why,but gave up the day he forgot the way to my house. When he overshot the last turn to my lane,I thought he was dreaming,but no... he couldn't recognize the lane because ,in his own words;"bhabhi woh eent,patthar kahan gaye?road saaf ho gaya to pehchaan nahin aaya."What happened to fixed assets on the road,the landmarks??? So that was the secret to his' lost ways'!!
Raju no.5-Lasted 30 days
pet peeve-impatience,hatred for parking anywhere but the building garage!
This one made us the laughing stock of friends,family and staff.He would drive us to our destination,but on our return there was no guarantee that he would be around waiting for us.He would drive all the way back home and park the car back in the garage if,the mall was not to his liking,it was too hot,he was hungry,couldn't find parking on the road,or any other reason that he thought fit.So after being left in the lurch twice each(both me and hubby on separate occasions) we let him go. Wonder where he is now?
Raju no.6-Lasted 3 days
Speciality-Death personified ,extremely dangerous to all living beings on the road and off it!
Again a parking lot product,he was danger unleashed on the road!!
Day one ,my heart was in my mouth when I reached home after an hour of being in the back seat.
Day two, my head was hanging in shame due to the choicest abuses that were hurled at us all through.
Day three ,people saw me escape a near death situation when suddenly Raju 6 decided to enter at full speed between two speeding trucks jostling for space in front .Fraction of second later ,there I was all shaken up as if my arms were cut off from my body. Reality soon dawned that I was unscathed but my car had lost both the rearview mirrors as it emerged from in between the two giant trucks..I took a cab home and didn't see his face again.
Good old,family drivers are a rare breed now,and I am still in search of that one Raju who fits in perfectly....