Monday mornings 8 am is my cabwalla
I walk seeing him, without looking at him
He extracts himself from his group
of cabwalla bhais
And inserts himself behind the steering wheel
I don’t tell him where to go, he doesn’t ask
He simply knows,
I’m his Monday 8 am baunee-walla ride to Antop Hill.
I’ve not asked him his name (on my phone he’s saved as cabbie)
He doesn’t know mine
I relax when I sit in his kaalipeeli and we set of
To my destination, (to perhaps his monday’s few predictabilities).

The Uber driver I book speaks to me in English.
My name showed up when I sit in his airconditioned Hyundai
His appeared as soon as I sought a cab.
He knows the city less than I do
But we both use digital maps and both of us probably don’t know
The new names of places that show up on Google
Or that Jambulwadi does not exisit where Jambulwadi used to
Before I leave he says five star rating madame.

I like that I don’t have to tell merawala cabwalla where to go
I like that we swap children-lamentations on the road
Or douse abuses at the municipal corporation with gusto
I like that he knows the Kishore Kumar songs that run a bowstring on my heart.
Or that he happily promises to bring rice from his home fields.
as he manually navigates me through short-cuts from the collective memory of the city he came to when he was 13.
It’s changed he tells me, it’s changed.

But it’s not Monday 8 am other than Monday 8 am
And convenience is a bitch
And if the rates work out, I’d much rather hit the uber app
and summon a silent professional
I’d much rather have airconditioning
While I work on my laptop,
while Googlemaps tells the driver where to go
and the potency of fivestarrating
keeps him swift and dour.
To my destination, (to perhaps his days’ total unpredictabilities.)

(April 17, 2019)