As recent as I was in Delhi this last year, at midnight waiting for an auto at the railway station. Unwillingly, the auto driver under pressure from the traffic police officer took my trip of less than a hundred rupees. He had to drop me just a few blocks away. All through the ride he was cribbing about the 300 + rupees he would have got if he had taken a different passenger.
And as is the case, we got talking.
Out of the blue, he said he was from the state of Bihar and sooner still asked me, “tell me one thing you know about Bihar, or do you know anything at all” with some kind of a challenge…
Already, I’d been warned about travelling in the night and travelling alone in Delhi by well wishers and here I was going against every one of them because my train reached exactly at half past midnight.
I remembered a friend of mine from campus from the state and said, “I love the sweets you make for your festival after Diwali. Chhatt Puja, I think” The man took the auto to the side of the road and brought it to a stop. I don’t know whether it out of shock, surprise or joy, he spoke quickly, “you know about Chhatt Puja.. that’s our main festival, which sweet did you have, how did you know.. ”
I thanked my friend in my heart for she was the first person I remembered from that state, and her going home post Diwali and the sweets she brings when she returns had given me a would be friend in this rickshaw driver. His grouse all gone, he happily chatted and told me a little more about the festival. He also took me on a short ride of the Delhi streets in the vicinity I was staying and shared tid bits about those roads and buildings.. and finally, dropped me at the place I had my bed to sleep for the night! As a parting ritual, he thanked me again for reminding him of the festival, and how he was not home to celebrate it for the past two years and how he missed being part of it…
I was happy I could make somebody happy, just like that..