Friday, March 02, 2007

missed call

The cab driver who came to pick me up this week is a funny guy, though he doesn’t realize it.

He doesn’t know a single word in Hindi and probably no idea what English is. He is a pure Kannadiga. Namma Bangaluroo types.

He is a kind of guy, who will piss you to no end, but you cannot hold your anger for long. For he is a pure-heart. A kind of guy who smiles even without a reason and takes life very casually.

Probably he is a new joiner and as such is very cautious as how he addresses us. His is the most mechanical “good afternoon sir” I have ever heard.

The rule is that when the driver comes to pick us up, he should come near the house and give a missed call. We are supposed to come and sit in the cab.

Start of the week, in Monday, it’s always a problem. Because you don’t know how many people are there in the pick up list and what time the cab would come and give a missed call.

But once you have been picked up, you know it very well about the pickup list and the timing of your cab. You get ready ten minutes before you get the missed call.

But since our driver this week is an extraordinary gentleman, he would give me at least three missed calls before he comes to my place. First one to tell me what time he would be coming, second to alert that he had started from the office to pick me up and the third to tell me he is just ten minutes away from my house and the final one to inform the cab is at the doorstep. I am supposed to call him back in the first two times. Once I didn’t call. Anxious he called me back to say, “Saar…cancelled?” I didn’t take a chance after that.

At least four hours before he picks me up, he would give me a missed call. I would return his call only to hear him say, “good morning saar. 2:45 awternoon.” Rather pissed that I need to call him for this bullshit and waste my precious one rupee, I always hung up saying a rather rude OK. Often forgetting he was the only person to greet me in the morning. And probably he is the only person who would address such a useless creature as “sir”.

Soon after ten minutes, he would call me. “sir…2:40 awternoon.” Since we both don’t understand each others’ language we would try to exchange minimum words. From my side it would be (in English): 2:40…not 2:45?

--2:45??? No 2:40 saar. 2:35…Ok 2:35--2:40 saar. 4 pickups. One cancel 2:50.

Now how you will deduce what this guy is saying.

Totally perplexed, I would want to make sure what time this guy would come in. I would say in Hindi, “What time exactly you will come in boss? Time…Time?”

He would laugh, “Hindi gottilla saar”. Which means he doesn’t know Hindi.

Now he would try to make me understand in his native language. Soon I had to say “Kannada gottilla boss.” Then both party would start laughing. At least, we understand this universal language.

Once I tried telling him he need not give me missed calls every day to repeat the same timing. That, even if he doesn’t inform me about the time, I would be ready by the same time he came yesterday. That way I can save my unnecessary call charges and also sleep a little more.

So after putting much restraint to my eloquence, I told him he need not give me missed calls before he comes. It went like this (again in English): Boss, no missed calls before 2:30.

He stopped his car and said something in Kannada that totally flew over my head. But I could gather something as an astonished “cancelled?”

--No…no cancellation…but…no missed calls…you come to this point…give me missed calls. Before that no missed calls.

His gestures told me he is suspecting my intellect. How you would know if I have come to your place, if I don’t give a missed call…he conveyed that with his language and gestures.

I also tried replying to him in the same way…but this time in my native language. "Khankir chele, ekhane asaar age leora missed call dibina. Shuorer baccha tor OK shunte giye amaar teen taka kharcha hoi.” (don’t give me missed calls before you come to the spot. I had to spend three rupees just to hear your stupid OK).

Perhaps he understood. Because he shook his head vigorously and said “Calcutta”. As is the case with all stupid non-bongs who know only three tortured words, he smiled, “aami tomake bhalobashe” (I love you). That was yesterday.

Today I didn’t get any missed call. And at three-o-clock when I didn’t get the usual one, I called the transport helpdesk.

The in-charge, with whom I have developed a good friendship in the two years of my job here, picked up the phone and wished me a nice holiday in Calcutta. “Convey my regards to your parents. Have a blast,” he said.

After trying to remain calm for a while, I returned his good wishes. “Thank you, I will.” I disconnected.


Yves said...

How well you have conveyed the frustrations of cellphones and of communicating across cultural expectations.

I hate my mobile phone, I'd like to throw it in a bucket of water. I tried to stop it accepting voicemail but I cannot. I refuse to listen to voicemail messages, which I have to pay for in order to find out whether they are of interest to me - usually not.

Ghetufool said...

indeed it's a pain. it's a pain. oh...the good old signal-less earth!

Shuv said...

haha..yen maartira kannadiga ammankeya suremagna.

Shuv said...

but seriously..sounds like a damn sweet guy man..i think i will plan a blore trip to meet him..

Yves said...

Yes, we used to manage without these phones all the time, and then we were more at the mercy of life, knowing that if we were lost we were lost and if we were late we were late.

DDT said...

great post ghetu. really missed those "illa" "gotila" days.......DDT

rama said...

Great blast of khisti, which, sadly, you didn't translate for the benefit of your non-Bengali readers!



preeti said...

still can't stop laughing reading this and "your dept is run by monkeys" flitted through my mind...finally someone who called you "sir," you should be grateful you ingrate!!!!

Scout said...

sigh. my pick up came at 7 for a 10 o clock shift. i didnt even have the energy to shout.

kaushik said...

Well this post will be well understood by my wife. Initially, when she used to speak with people over the phone at 3 in the night I couldnt help but feel a little bit uneasy. But now I know it is the cab driver..

Ghetufool said...

loved to see you in my blog. absolute love. if you were a girl...i would have proposed you. BTW, why you have hidden your profile, bastard?

Ghetufool said...

i am sure, if you come to meet this will be delighted. he is a joker man. very nice fellow.

sothing you cannot translate...isn't it?

i see that you are vowing to put my ass on fire.

Ghetufool said...

but you can always walk...why you have to take a cab?

i didn't knew you are such a jealous person.

media concepts said...

I love all the characters you describe. I guess others do as well, since you are getting a good number of comments. How is the Colonel?