The cover of Readomania’s ‘Cabbing all the way’ by Jatin Kuberkar gives the reader a hint of what the journey ahead is going to be like – whimsical and eye-catching, with regular nuggets of humour along the way.
When twelve people with varying mindsets decide to share a cab from Dilsukhnagar area to their “out-of-civilization” workplace, it starts off as a joyride. It is a relief not to have to think of ways to commute every day, as Chandrahas aka Chandu kick-starts the process, introducing the others to the popular and disorganized “share auto transport system” in Hyderabad. They have to travel 40 kilometres one way. “It was like doing a car-pool without owning a car.”
Jatin Kuberkar forte lies in his penchant for describing people and he often juggles reality with humour. If the child-like Raghav is “a treasure trove of funny Hyderabadi taglines”, Vijaya is a traditional married woman. “The dark circles around her weak black eyes were silent witnesses of all the hard work she put to make ends meet.”
The bespectacled Binodh, forever on his phone with his fiancée, resembles Droopy, the cartoon character, while Saina reveals perfect “speech, body and face” co-ordination in the way she speaks and is individualistic and choosy about her needs.
However, it is Mohan’s description, along with his half-baked English, which makes one smile. “If a spoon full of Abhishek Bachchan, a little Hrithik Roshan and a whole lot of Keshto Mukherjee were to be blended together, the result would be Mohan. Confused, heroic and Keshto.”
Despite the initial hiccups, the ride falls into a harmonious pattern as the passengers work out ‘The Cab Constitution’, listing out the rules to be followed by all. They are aware that they have come together to sort out a common problem – that of commuting to work and back on a daily basis. Gradually, “what used to be a drab journey transformed into a fun ride”.
The cab group look forward to their regular discussions and debates on current affairs, films, cricket, finances, women’s issues, TV soaps and investments. They enjoy chaat stops even as they rail against their unsympathetic managers. They rejoice in the positive energy that has made them all more productive at work. “The cab had become a place where we could give a cathartic outlet to our emotions.”
What, then, is it that throws a spanner in the works, and derails this cab journey that had started so enthusiastically? Is it a clash of personalities or their “live and let live” policy that starts playing havoc with their see-sawing emotions? Are they “a group of ‘friends’ with a common goal” or “just ‘co-travellers’ united with a common interest without any emotional attachment?” Is it need that drives the world or friendship?
A well-crafted narrative that adheres to the spirit of the cab!