Monday, September 24, 2007

Malls, Malls, Malls

Here I am in the car, with a driver that doesn't really know where he is going. I am just trying to get to the office, but he missed the turn and now I am getting a mall tour of Gurgaon. As we drive down the street, he points to a structure that says "Metropolitan Mall" across the top and points and says "Metropolitan Mall". The road is littered with malls and so this gives him something to do as if merely driving was not challenging enough.

"Sahara Mall"
"Grand Mall"
"Mall construct. Be open 2 month sir. Very big mall. Many shop"

I just want to get out of the car and have a cup of coffee. I may sound a bit annoyed and you would be right. I have gone from having drivers who are musical to merely having musical drivers. My phone contact list looks like this:

Driver August 2
Driver Babulal
Driver Badia
Driver Cas
Driver Picas
Driver Pradeep
Driver Rahul Gupta
Driver Santosh
Mr. Singh (He is the driver coordinator and sometimes driver himself)

So every morning, it is always a surprise who will be waiting outside my door. Not only that, but I don't even keep a driver for more than one journey. A trip from the house to the office, to lunch, home and then dinner could have 4 different drivers. They are swapped while I work or eat and I have no idea who to call. To make things a little more fun, they don't speak English and when I phone, they don't ever pick up, they come running up to me, waving frantically like they are trying to flag down a ship at sea.

I like to be a bit friendly with the drivers, I do spent hours a day with them, but when I ask a question like "Where do you live in Delhi?" or "Where in India are you from?", I get the following response, almost without fail: "Ok, sir." I basically stop trying. This is really fun when I get dropped off at a restaurant by a driver that has no mobile and I ask him where he will meet us and again I get "OK, sir." So now I have to flag down a local walking down the street to give the driver instructions.

I miss Guddu. He is great driver, great attitude and personality. He was my first driver when I arrived, before I got his brother-in-law/stalker driver who started buying me gifts which included clothes and would just walk into the house completely uninvited. When Anjali heard the story, she told me he was making a move on me. I was not happy. This al escalated the one morning when he showed me the article about the married man with 2 kids who was having sex with guys and then killing them. I wasn't sure if he was sending me a message, but it freaked me out. I went to Holland shortly after that and when I returned, he had moved with his wife and 2 kids to Punjab.

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