You know the world has irrevocably changed when an MH02 autorickshaw agrees to to go to an MH03 destination.
Let me explain. Like in most big cities, you can look at the number plates of kaali-peelis and autorickshaws to tell which part of Bombay they are from. MH01 would mean South Bombay, MH02, Bandra-Andheri, MH03 Chembur and other central suburbs and so on. MH03 autos go everywhere, the social climbers. But MH02 autos, understandably, will never go across social lines to leave Bandra, even though an empty auto or taxi must never refuse a ride by law, we have never seen it enforced. It cannot be, Bombay would collapse without autos and taxis and we cannot afford to take panga with them and we must always love and cherish them.
In my misspent youth, I have dared to ask a
MH01 taxi if he would take me home to Chembur. He made that dismissive clicking sound they use to drive farm animals. Because I was young and foolish I stood my ground and asked what about Kandivali (clicking sound), Thane (clicking sound), Outer Mongolia… “Dekho maidam. I live near the WTC in Cuffe Parade. Why would I go to any of the places you talk about”. I gave up. Even he had a better address than I.
Yesterday at Bandra, when my friend insisted on flagging down a rickshaw with MH02 license plates for me, I screamed in horror. MH02 autos belong to the western suburbs, mainly Bandra. In the past when I had committed this sin, they have looked at me with such disdain that firstly, I had the guts to trespass into BANDRA, from gareeb Chembur and then to have the temerity to ask them to leave the gloriousness of Bandra to venture into the bogs…One guy even told me to take number 371 ltd. bus and promptly refused to take me to the bus stop.
But my friend assured me that because the year has been so bad, everyone is going everywhere. So I shouted from across the street at the auto, ‘Chembur’. If he was going give me gaalis involving my ancestors and their sexual proclivity, it was better I was far away. But he merely nodded. Against my better judgement, I crossed the street to him. Trembling, I asked again, Chembur. He nodded and in that head gesture known only to autorickshaw drivers, he encouraged me to get in…It was so beautiful, that Bandra auto. I felt so rich.
I asked him again, if he was sure and why on earth would a great MHO2 auto want to go to silly Chembur.
“Majboori”, he said. “Nahin toh Chembur kaun jaayega.”
I agree. No one should be forced to go to Chembur. 2020, you rotten miserable year, you destroyed the delicate social fabric of Bombay.