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July 01 , 2010

Travails with Chachi

Conversations with a DLY Taxi Driver


Chachi: is not a taxi. It is something that feels; and emotes . . .New Delhi: A melting pot. A crucible of people, cultures, lifestyles. Home to the politicians that lead this country. And to the taxiwallahs that more often than not charge a hundred per cent extra than the legitimate fare. U.P.: The badlands. Notorious for dacoits, land usurpation; and other misdeeds. This is the New Delhi and U.P that we travel through with the most lovable of all symbols associated with the citythe Ambassador car. Travails with Chachi is a ‘Never-before-Seen’ Delhi. It is a Delhi seen through the eyes of the Ambassador taxian ubiquitous symbol that for many decades defined Delhi. Plodding through Lutyens’ Delhi on a maximum speed of 40 kmph Chachi (the protagonist of this book) sees all; experiences all; and tells all. The taxi belches; makes offensive noises; and is a tell-tale. And so the characters that Chachi plys on her ample ‘back’seatdhoti-clad paan-chewing portly politicians indulging in ‘suitcase politics; Ganesh brand beedi chain-smokers; the Nakli Singh Yadavs who only want to induct people into politicsthat is already home to bus conductors and convicted dacoits; the belan brandishing Bablu ki Ma; and Mehnath Singhwho is far removed from the name bestowed upon him by his parents that implies ‘hard work’. The lands that Chachi travels through is peppered with those that breathe and abuse concurrently; those that revel and live off name-dropping; the inventors of lyrical slogans - Tilak, tarazu, talwar aur ch****; sab ko maro joota chaar!; and those that make a living - doing nothing. This is New Delhi. This is U.P. This is Chachi’s world.
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