Many moons ago I happened to chance upon a very funny blog by Deepak Gopalakrishnan aka @chuck_gopal and remarked, as a comment to one of his posts, that I had once been on the receiving end of a sharp lecture on the cricketing skills of R. Dravid. Chuck asked me to write a post about it, elaborating the incident.
The fly in the ointment of course is that it isn't much of a story. I have a hazy idea that in modern literature people can - and do - write entire chapters on people sitting by the sea, and describing individual waves rolling on to the shore but I doubt something like that would sustain dramatic interest. My auto driver story, I strongly suspect, is going to turn out like that. So if you find it terrible, please visit Andheri West where said chuck_gopal stays, and throw stones at his window.
The story: Once upon a time, I was taking an auto from Malad to Bandra, if I recall correctly, which is a big ticket purchase in Mumbai auto circles, and I was rightly getting a lot of respect from the auto guy.
We opened the conversation with light topics. On the dubious parentage of traffic policemen, we were both of unanimous opinion. The auto driver had just been reprimanded by a traffic policeman for wriggling into an open space when the cop was signalling him to stop. I wasn't feeling too good about traffic policemen as a tribe myself, having been soaked just the other day for many rupees for speaking on a cellphone while driving.
Continuing the feast of reason and flow of soul, the auto driver expressed a fairly leftist opinion of recent governmment policies which I did not share but could sympathise with. Again, he speculated on the parentage of some of our elected representatives, suggesting based on morphology, that one of the forebears was from the species canis familiaris.
The conversation turned to cricket. The auto driver, who seemed to be a self taught expert on genealogy, now discerned among the selectors' ancestry, sus scrofa domesticus. He berated several members of the cricket team as well.
I'm not much of a connoisseur of cricket but I remembered watching a match some days ago where Rahul Dravid was causing consternation among the cognoscenti for steadfastly refusing to cause wear and tear to the ball while batting. I decided to voice that opinion and suddenly, the auto came to a halt.
The auto driver parked it to a side and I could see from his expression that his assesment of me as a thinker was on par with Equus asinus asinus.
"You must be out your mind", he told me, with disturbing candour. "Dravid", he said, "is the most technically correct batsman in the side".
Getting out of the auto, he demonstrated to me how Dravid kept his head down while driving off the front foot and how balanced and measured his follow through was. Following this up with a demonstration of how Dravid played the pull shot, he told me with undisguised contempt "samajhta nahin to bolneka nahi", translating into Hindi for my benefit Boethius' quote "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses".
The man was big hearted, however. Putting aside his contempt for me and people of my ilk, he ferried me to my destination. I was sadder but wiser. Never again would I have the temerity to criticize Rahul Dravid.
It might have been soul searing, but I do believe the experience has left me a better man.