Tales from the real life
January 13, 2017
I opened up the talk for one hour drive from Udupi to Mangalore Airport with driver Monu. I was wanting to hear the story of Udupi restaurants which are famous across India.
Monu like few of the early aspirants of the foreign shores was in Saudi Arabia as driver. He has been driving since past 35 years, 7 years in Saudi and then in India. To my amazement he was able to survive now with paltry 5000 per month salary, sending his kids to government school and getting free ration for being below poverty line. He did lose some money by taking risk of his travel business.
He opened up a story for me which I am sure can be taken up Madhur Bhandarkar for Bollywood Movie. “Haji Abdulla” who was he? I asked as Monu uttered this name. “He owned the whole of Udupi land, he also set up corporation bank with 25 takka.” How old is the story, I asked. He replied 100 years ago…
“Sir, He was getting things from Mumbai and selling in Udupi. Things like lanterns, rice, dal, brooms and what not. All the daily supplies used to come on his ships from Mumbai. He was a trader. Britishers were his friends and he used to make tea for Britishers by burning stove with notes.” (Tea and Notes made me curious as these are important in these times in India as well).
Monu went on, “He was so direct and helpful that as a Municipal Mayor he used to burn lanterns on big khambas on the streets of Udupi upto Manipal.” He did lot of charity for people but people took advantage of him. He had no kids, only wives.”
“He died by consuming his diamond ring.” “Why”, I asked?
“Sir many people like those Konkani people who were made payments in Cheques used to change figures in the cheques which he used to sign. He was not literate, His only connection with pen was that he could sign.” Figures of 10,000 was made 100,000 and en-cashed. He became bankrupt. His bank was seized and he took decision to leave his body”. “You know how people are Sir.” I could hear the undertone in his voice.
Haji Abdulla of Udupi was famous as he was a rich merchant and a bank founder. But Monu, I knew he was talking something from his subconscious. He was narrating story of Haji Abdulla in his voice and depth of his heart. The story was of Haji Abdulla but had few emotions experienced by Monu in his lifetime.
I allowed his to speak and he narrated me the story of Mangalore docks, the survival of Vijay Mallya, Kingfisher debacle and the growth of Mangalore as a trading hub. He was a boxful of historical facts. “This dock gets lots of foreigners as tourists by ship. That’s the time when all taxiwala make lot of money. They pay a good tip to us”. I could hear him well.
Few miles before Mangalore International Airport he turned from History to Geography. “ Sir, This Airport is made with lot of kickbacks. The land between mountains has been filled and a runway has been created on top of the hill. It’s an architectural mistake”. Monu went on. He then narrated incident of an International Aircraft landing into “Pataal” by skidding the runaway a little bit. “This airport has only 4 toilets, eatery giving dosa at Rs. 50 and is called International Airport. I have to come down 3 Miles to eat dosa Sir to save money.”
I was mesmerized by his storytelling oratory skills. I am sure that’s the skill a driver needs in a sector like Tourism.
He dropped me at Mangalore Airport in time, handed over a ready made bill and had exactly 90 seconds to be at dropping point for avoiding a penalty of Rs. 500 for being at Mangalore International Airport.
What I learned was that the stories are in real conversations. The ones on google are text whereas the ones heard properly are backed with emotions as well. The tone of the voice tells you a better story than the text.
Monu like most drivers had the story inside him. I took a chance to open up the conversation with him and learned so much which as was simply not possible had I been browsing Internet and searching for keywords “Mangalore, Udupi, Manipal, Airport, International, Tourism”. The character of the story was “Haji Abdulla” and the scenes were 100 years ago during British era which neither Monu nor me had seen in our life time. He was narrating a story which he might have heard in his life time.
So the epics of 1000 years of folklores are also stories passed generation after generation. It is our judicious decision to believe fully or partially on them. Treating them facts and then fighting over it will be useless unless we have the wisdom to accept them as pure stories.
I will surely read more about Haji Abdulla and verify the facts before being biased on the story. It is a great research topic on historical facts and genesis of a bank called Corporation Bank.
Had I not asked him right questions, I was assuming Mr. Abdulla to be a smuggler and a don of Udupi.
My original flight had to be canceled and a new booking had to be made to the maximum city for minimum fare. On board on emergency exit seats 24D-F I saw 3 shaukeens sitting and chatting with each other in elite English.On a flight of Jet Airways they must have requested Air Hostess for on board facilities more than 10 times unlike other common passengers who ask it only once for refreshment. These shaukeens want black tea with lemon, some extra chocolates, favour for extra attention to their wives sitting on 24A-C and a some extra time to talk to the ladies serving 240 passengers. They had a birthright to be attention seekers.
The crew handled them all with grace. Now you can hear my story in above paragraph as well…… Can you?