Friday, February 18, 2011

Our Car...

…is officially, and finally, on order.  We’re told that it should only be a couple of weeks for delivery; but to be honest I’d be surprised if it’s less than a month.  From there it’ll need to be registered.  I have no idea how long that process takes or what is involved; I guess we’ll find out.  Of course we’ll then need to hire a driver, but someone in Paul’s office is already working on it.  Apparently he knows someone, who knows someone else that has a friend, who comes from a family of drivers that will be able to recommend someone.

In the meantime, I’ve been having Paul’s rickshaw driver, Vikram, pick me up about once a week and take me to the mall.    Yesterday he was half an hour late: 

Him:  “Sorry.  So sorry Mrs. Boss.”
Me:   “It’s okay….”
Him:  “Sorry.”
Me:   “It’s…”
Him:  “So sorry.”
Me:   “It’s okay.  No problem.”
Him:  “Thank you.”

Yes, he actually calls me Mrs. Boss.  It’s weird for me, but he does it out of respect.  Not only has Paul been his main source of income for over a year; he’s also been his benefactor.  Whether Vikram needs money because one of his children is sick, his rickshaw needs new tires or he’s just having a hard time; Paul has been there.  Very soon, he will not be.  Getting our own car brings mixed feelings.

Now a friend of mine has asked, and you may be wondering also, if we really need a car.  Let me answer that with a question.  If you lived in the suburbs would you have your own car or would you pay to get around in a golf cart half the time and a taxi the other half?  Keep in mind that the golf cart would only take you short distances and any time you’d need a taxi the driver may not speak English, making it near to impossible to explain where you need to go.  Unless, of course, you know exactly how to get there and can instruct him: 

Seedhey jaaey!  (Go straight!) 
Phir bānyae mudiye.  (Then turn left) 
Phir dānyae mudiye.  (Then turn right)

My friend then suggested that Vikram could drive our car for us.  First of all, there’s a very good chance that he has never driven one before, let alone have a license to do so.  Second, he’s only familiar with a small area of Navi Mumbai.   Third, he speaks very little English.  We need a driver that knows his way around, both in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai.  Someone that we can easily communicate with, as opposed to being limited to a few simple words combined with exaggerated hand gestures.

So the bottom line is we have to do what is practical for us living here, knowing it will inevitably affect the lives of a man and his family.  In this situation I think the only thing that helps set the world back in balance a bit, is knowing that we’ll be giving someone else a job.


Anonymous said...

It's a difficult one, isn't it? I would be so torn but of course, you need to be able to get around a bit more and you also need someone with more extensive English. And you will be giving someone else a job so that is a good thing. Maybe there will be somebody else you can recommend the rickshaw driver to. I'm sure it will all work out.

Blondefabulous said...

I'd definitely get the car, but maybe take the rikshaw to the mall?

I dunno... everyone in India looks poor to me. It's sad.

Bama Cheryl said...

Yes, there is an ebb and flow to all of it. What does Navi Mumbai mean? I know what Mumbai is -- is Navi the **new** part of Mumbai?

Avitable said...

What types of cars do they have there?

Unknown said...

Are you buying a Tata? Because I LOVE that name of that car. Tata. It just rolls off the tongue. (If you're lucky.)

Expat No. 3699 said...

@ Selma
I don’t know anyone else to recommend him to. The problem is that I can’t join the AWC (American Women’s Club) until I have transportation…which means I haven’t met anyone that I could recommend him to.

@ Blondefabulous
That’s actually one of the problems with taking the rickshaw to the mall now. I can’t grocery shop without Paul, because I need someone else to hold onto some of the bags in the rickshaw. With a car, I could just put them in the trunk or on the seats. Being able to buy groceries during the week would free up our only two days together on the weekend.

Not everyone in India is poor, but it seems that the majority is. And yes it is sad. On a good note, it seems that the middle class is finally growing here.

@ Bama Cheryl
There is definitely an ebb and flow; which is good.

Mumbai was formerly known as Bombay and Navi Mumabi was Old Bombay. India has 28 states; we are in Maharasthra. Mumbai is the capital and Navi Mumbai is just to the east and was developed in 1972 as a twin city and is also the largest planned city on the planet (quoting from Wikipedia now). It is almost the same size as Mumbai and the two are connected by 2 bridges.

@ Avitable
To give you a full answer I’d have to address this in a post. I can tell you that there are a mixture of manufacturers; meaning some that you would recognize, some that you would not and others a combination of both.

Though large and expensive vehicles are available here, small and affordable is the standard. Chevrolet’s new Beat is being advertised as a car you can grow into (i.e. a couple with a prearranged marriage has twin daughters, and five years later happen across a dog in the road that they need to adopt…and have plenty of room for.) This same car, if available in the U.S., would probably be geared towards young and single adults.

Another brand you would recognize is Ford. They boast, “This is a proud moment for us at Ford and the 70,000 proud owners as the Ford Figo has been recognized as the Indian Car of the Year 2011.” Seventy thousand owners? M’kay.

@ LceeL
As much as you love to roll that off your tongue, we are not buying a Tata. Our satellite TV is through them, and that is all the business that they are going to willingly get from us. We’re actually getting a Hyundai I20.

Meg said...

Heck, I'm just impressed that you get say "Driver...take me to...". I'm kinda jealous actually!

I love reading about your adventures in India!

Lifeofkaylen said...

Are you going to have the new driver call you Mrs. Boss? That's awesome.

Maybe you can refer other people to your Vikram. Or call on him to run errands for you from time to time. Maybe his wife could cook a meal for you once a week. Or clean your house-yes, you want a housekeeper!! If he is really wonderful (sounds like he might be), he'll find someone new to tend to, right?
I think a car sounds really imperative.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Oh! I hope Vikram can find a new benefactor and can get by OK. We should take a blog collection for you to give him.