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Mr.X in Bombay October 6, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Bombay, education, india, Mumbai, Opinion, People, Personal, Random.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mr. X in Bombay

Hindu. Age – 55 or thereabouts. Occupation – auto driver. Hailing from – Uttar Pradesh in North India.

I met Mr. X a fortnight back. I had finished work and was looking for an auto when he stopped. I was accompanied by a colleague. We traveled a bit and as is the custom ended up cursing the traffic and bad driving habits of the majority. He too chipped in.

We stopped at a signal. This being the festival season various ceremonial arches have erupted all over Bombay. Each sponsored by a local politician, small – time firm or in some cases by MNC’s who want to be in the good books of the local goons.

Mr. X said something – an English word and then said – ‘good that its written in Hindi. Previously all English was Greek to us. It is India and we should use Hindi or even Marathi would do. After all, the script is the same, with some local variations.’

He was basically supportive of the recent MNS agitation to have signboards in Marathi. Whereas MNSs’ activism is purely parochial and not based on utilitarian objectives, Mr. X’s reasoning was purely functional. We can read the language so it should be in the language that most will understand. I agreed.

We moved on. More smoke, more horns, more jams. Mr. X who came to Bombay some 20 years back started complaining about the bad traffic and the reasons for it. He gave his detailed plan – which flyover would best reduce congestion; which future routes should be concentrated on; which routes are of no use etc.

Indians love politics and so in response to my colleague’s question about which political party he would favour he had this to say – if it is local, then it is the candidate with whom he shared some level of intimacy – either personal or with policies.

If it was the national election then what mattered was – will the party representing the candidate be able to win majority at the center? Who wants repeated election, he asked me. After all, elections cost us money. I agreed. Stability is what I am looking for, he added. He also threw light on the politics of development – how a politician can dump his or her core base and still win elections. Fascinating I thought.

All this while it was Mr. X who was talking.

I got an entry with his statement that even the US is abandoning Pakistan. He asked me if it is true. I told him about the recent Marriott bombing, which he had missed; he knew about the Yemeni bomb blast tough. I gave my side of the Waziristan problem and how the Taliban and the Al Qaida are messing with Pakistan.

Education – he said. They should read books and see the world. It will change them, said Mr. X.



1. Vinod Sharma - October 10, 2008

Not many of us talk to the ‘common man’ whose sense, as this example illustrates, is firmly in place and his sensible deductions have been arrived at due to astute observations firmly in touch with real India.

Though Mr X does not wholly represent “India”, he certainly represents more of it then people like us living in another world do. But we think we know it all. That is why we are often surprised when India votes.

2. astralwicks - October 10, 2008

yes. he had a native intelligence, that cannot be acquired by knowledge or education and which he had honed no doubt, living as an immigrant, if not an outsider. his insights were revealing. taught me a thing or two.

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