Friday, December 30, 2005

In transit

Every morning, Manmohan Singh picks me up for work outside the McDonald's in South Extension.

No, not the prime minister of India -- my auspiciously named driver who seems every bit as mellow and pragmatic as the man himself.

The company's Manmohan-ji has thick black hair sprouting from his earlobes and wears heavy glasses that cover half his face (and occasionally slide off his nose when he is aggressively maneuvering the Qualis through traffic). Every day he wears a navy blazer, as crisp as polyester can be, and brings English newspapers for his passengers to read.

Suffice it to say, he is a bit different from most Delhi drivers in sartorial style, as well as temperament.

Manmohan-ji always manages to surprise me, whether he is waiting at a deserted intersection's red light as other cars speed past (hey, there's no one coming, what does traffic control matter?) or profusely apologizing for his hacking cough. He never fails to use his turn signal. He refuses to blare Hindi music. He has yet to make an attempt at mowing down a pedestrian.

These are the kind of people I like -- people who respect rules that sometimes seem insignificant, people who are mindful of the comfort of others without making a show of their magnanimity.

(This is not, of course, to say that sometimes the rules shouldn't be broken and so forth, but that's not the point -- for now.)

Of course, it does mean that it does tack an extra 15 minutes onto my already-too-long journey from Gurgaon to Delhi. But at least they're a pleasant 15 minutes.

No comments: