You have to believe me when I say this – government drivers are heroes. I am still fresh as a wife to the workings of the government, but then it does not take a mountain climb worth of time to realize some types of super-skills when you see them. The following 1000 words are a tribute to government drivers in India. The roles they can play, are made to play and do indeed play can make the biggest poly-armed multi-avatar Gods re-examine their situation in the skies. Here are 6 of the more visible more typical roles:
1. Driver – Well, they are on the rolls for driving Sir’s car so car they have to drive. To office and back! Thereafter, after Sir’s quick shower and Madam’s make-up, they have to drive them to a certain party. (Such help they provide their Sirs in balancing work and play bless their souls!). As the clock strikes the 2 am hour, they hold the door open for a happy couple outside a starry hotel and again drive them back. And unless they are required to take another few minutes to help a toast-ed sir to bed, it’s good night till good morning at 9 am sharp, the next day! All this, in case they are not driving Sir’s family to Shimla for a quick getaway while his bosses are away on theirs!
2. House-help-cum-Nanny – I know I know! House helps are almost always arranged even before the newly-in-coming family has seen the inside of their new homes post transfer. But if only those tender age workers could really handle everything, baba! Short of milk for tea? Send the driver to get it ASAP. Full cream, remind him. He got toned milk last time, that careless man! Surely, it’s not about the car always, for there are fans that need cleaning and curtain rods that need a scrub and fussy children who need a piggy-back, crying ones who need to see the red-beacon on or others who need to be taught the tricycle. Of course, getting their hair pulled and cheeks punched are just collaterals to the pleasures of serving their masters, unconditionally!
3. Shopping Assistant – Now, government drivers have a way about themselves which may confuse them with their Sirs’, in Sirs’ absence that is. So when one is assigned the very responsible job of reaching home in the afternoon from office and taking madam for shopping, the idea of at-your-service acquires gargantuan proportions. They will drive like there’s no tomorrow, park like it’s their daddy’s road (why make Madam walk long in the sun, so park right outside the shop door next to the 'No Parking' board) and keep on their toes, in case madam has any packets that her delicate hands cannot carry down the 3 steps and up into the car. The most heart-touching story is of a kind driver who went from North-west Delhi, crossed the Yamuna, entered UP from a South-West direction, zoomed into the tailor’s lane for the second time in the same day, just because the erring tailor had forgotten to put the cords in Madam’s salwars. And he was still in time for his son’s 4th birthday, cords duly delivered to Madam’s salwars eagerly waiting at home. In the mean time, the Sir just hitched a ride home from office with his neighbour.
4. Mechanic – What use is a driver who cannot fix a broken-down car? What use, I tell you, if he cannot come over the weekend and take-and-drop the car with faulty AC for repairs at the service centre, wash clean the one standing at home and fix the alternator of the third one in the garage in the meantime? Saturday mornings are ideal times for denting-painting-fixing, as well as making sure the denter-painter-fixer at the workshop does not charge an extra dime after it’s done and the car is ready to be driven back, in time, for the picnic at Lodhi Gardens (of course, with food for the driver included!).
5. Coolie – Muscles or no muscles, every driver knows that at least once in his career he will have to carry 100 kg worth of luggage. Be it picking up Sir’s brother from the international arrivals, or Madam’s mother from the railway station, someone has to do the carrying of the bags and that someone has to be the one with the placard in his hands, right outside the exit gate or the train bogey, as the case may be! And not just carry, mind it, but load it in the car and unload it right till the guest room of Sir’s humble accommodation. Thank God for Roohafza and some namkeen on the side, after all, hard-work deserves a little treat, whether at 2 pm in the afternoon or 2 am at night!
6. RSS Feed/News wire – Like hot news wires and super fast RSS feeds, drivers can fill you up on the latest, or the oldest, and make you well-informed on topics govern-mental. What do you do when you need to know what your senior’s home looks like? Or where your junior’s wife goes every afternoon? Who do you ask if Sir X is clean or Sir Y “eating money”? Or who is going where for a weekend getaway and who is planning an exclusive Class I party? Or who stole crockery from their favourite dhaba or whose son wanted motichoor laddoos at 12 am in the night? Go no further, just ask the man behind the wheel. Chances are he’ll know more than you can ever imagine, or handle, or hope, really!
So there! Whether permanent, ad hoc or on contract, heroes they surely are. And the less permanent they are in the sarkari scheme of things the more malleable, ductile, tensile and tractile they are. Having a government driver is something like getting that extra paani the puchka-walla pours into your katori after the 20-ka-8 are finished – it’s free, it’s full of perks (meetha, teekha or simply mixed) and just the right way to down a top-class sarkari naukri.
First on CNN-IBN
First on CNN-IBN