Saturday, November 11, 2006

Class as a function of fear (Auto-maton 7)

"Classy film."
"He's got class"
"What do you expect? That place has no class."
"Class! Disperse!"
"She must repeat the class."
"You can either cater to the classes or the masses."
"Arre, it's an everyday thing, with that class."
"That class of man is not used to seeing women out, alone. They can't handle it."
"Mom! They don't even have third class seats any more."
"First class first."
"Business class."
"A class apart."

Do not take autos at night. If you must, take a taxi. Take a prepaid taxi. Take a taxi where the driver knows he will not get away with it.

11.30 pm. Airport.
There are pre-paid taxis. There are also autos.
You take an auto, because the driver agrees to a reasonable price. It is an old-ish man. A minute later, he stops and asks another to join him on the front seat. It is a young boy - not more than fourteen. You are relieved it is such a young boy.

12. Midnight. Lutyen's Delhi.
You are lost. In the dark, nothing is familiar. You suspect the driver is lost too. He has not been paying attention to the roads at all, and has kept up a steady stream of conversation with the boy, mostly revolving around what to eat for dinner, and where.

12.15 am. Chanakyapuri.
You know this is the embassy zone. You just don't know how to get out of here. The driver has no clue either.
You admonish him with a single word - "Bhaiyya!"
He reassures you with - "Yes, yes. I'll just find a way."

12.25 am. Chanakyapuri.
The driver is looking grim. The boy is silent. They keep trying various small lanes, some of which lead to a dead-end, others seem to lead you around in circles. You are definitely lost.
You admonish - "Bhaiyya, what are you doing?"
He reassures - "Bas, bas - I'll just find a way."

1 am. Lajpatnagar.
Familiar zone. You are no longer lost and giving crisp, rather cross directions to a clueless old man.

1.15 am. The street outside your home.
The driver stops and does not ask you for any extra money, though you are half-prepared for the demand, after such a long time on the road.
He apologizes - "I'm sorry. I know it is worrying to be lost so late at night."
You decide to be gracious - "That's okay."
He adds - "But I have to say, you're a brave one. Any other girl would have been frightened."

You decide not to dispel the illusion.

1.16 am.
A car slows down when you are paying the auto driver. There are two prosperous-looking young men inside.
One of them peers out and addresses you - "Where do you want to go? We will take you."
You snap - "I want to go to hell. Will you come along?"
Sheepishly, he mutters - "Oh! Well, we could go there too."
but they do not hang around. The car picks up speed and leaves.

The auto driver clicks his tongue - "It is a bad world out here at night."
You shrug, "It's an everyday thing", but you remember to thank him warmly.

Do not take autos late at night? Take taxis, instead?

More on the 'auto' : Auto-maton 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Came here after some time, spent some time reading what you have written in the months since I last came. Learnt some.


Anonymous said...


Annie Zaidi said...

anirudh, pawan: :)
tirthankar: (can I just use the nic?) thanks. keep coming.

Chaitan Bandela said...

Nice ... You go girl!

Anonymous said...

Sweetly said.

think i will begin a lady-freindly taxi initiative.

the snap about going to hell, the guys were prob. headed there.:-)

blog on.

ciao Schizo

R. said...

firstly companies which have employees working late are responsible for their safe transit back home

secondly, be safe my friend :)

R. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hey Annie: It is so refreshing to hear such a positive story about Delhi. Often we are brainwashed into believing that Delhi is not safe for women. I don't deny it, it may not be all the time and one cannot afford to be foolish, but we often have a blanket ban opinion on all men. More power to such rickshaw-wallas!

Anonymous said...

whi is delhi liek this i sometimes wonder !
but then by that time it's already 11 o clock and this strange city's roads are half empty !

Annie Zaidi said...

chaitan: thanks
schizo: please do. a cheap initiative please.
rabin: i will.
altaf: it was refreshing for me too. wish there were more of those drivers around
in exile: maybe the city likes sleeping at night. there's nothing much wrong with empty roads.

Anonymous said...

strangely enough, it works both ways. a friend of mine was driving down towards chanakya cinema hall (embassy area again) when he found two girls waiting by the bus stop.

thinking that it would be unsafe for them to stand alone at such a deserted place, he offered to give them a lift.

the girls got up and immediately starting demanding money.

my poor friend, (and he is one of those simple minded ones) shelled out all the money in his pocket.

so that too was a lesson learned.

but where are we all heading?

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