An Hour-Long Ride

By Susam Pal on 05 Jun 2008

Yesterday, I was returning home from Malleswaram in an auto rickshaw. It was a long ride because of the terrible Bangalore traffic. At one of the places where we were stuck for a long time due to traffic, the auto rickshaw driver began talking to me. To my pleasant surprise, he talked about poetry, history, geography, mathematics, and biology. He did most of the talking. I simply listened and responded when I had something to add. He was fluent in English and Hindi, and he knew a little bit of Oriya too. He learnt a little more from me. I know Oriya as I have spent over 20 years in Orissa. Kannada was his mother tongue.

For some reason, he believed that the US got its independence on 9 July 1777 even though I told him that it was 4 July 1776. I told him that I was very sure of the date as it is often used in Hollywood movies even though I was not sure of the year. He also mentioned that one can't find water anywhere in the world that tastes better than that of Coimbatore. He talked about angles and properties of circles when it came to mathematics. He talked about bones when we talked about biology.

He said that he never went to school but he ensured that his children got good education. He explained that he learnt most of the things he was discussing, including Hindi and English, from his children. He said that he learnt through experience that time is very precious and it should not be wasted.

Finally, he explained why he was talking so much. He offered two reasons: