When you’re out in the world, you must be a certain kind of unfazed. Otherwise, you may come home lost in thought and in a worse state than you left it in. I was in the cab this evening. The rush of the weekend was still relevant, which is to say that every hour was a rush hour until the clocks hit midnight.
The loneliness of being surrounded by traffic is, of course, belittling and overwhelming, and when you’re in a cab, you talk to the cabbie to pass through it, or the cabbie talks to you, whichever comes first. I find it to be a good excuse to understand what’s going on in the city, and having an opinion from another walk of life, as they divulge their deepest secrets and thoughts to you, is one of the few ways to get to the actual state of affairs. Today, as the cab jostled its way through the traffic, quite abruptly, if I must add, the driver asked me where I was from. I told him I was from here, although I was shocked, and if not shocked, I was slightly taken aback at his assumption. To which he quickly said that I did not look like people who were from here, and I smiled and asked him what do people from here look like then, and he said he didn’t know, and I told him I didn’t know either, but I will try better tomorrow to look the part.
Of course, this was all in good spirits and humour, like all things should be, and then, we talked about the traffic, the city, the country, his children, his life and my life. This was not the first time I was asked a question like this. Quite often, I get into cabs or autos, and when I do, they ask me where I am from. Perhaps, based on how I carry myself or in the way I talk, which has traces from all the places I have lived in peppered into it. I tell them I am from here, there and everywhere, of course, as a coy remark. Then, I ask them what prompted them to ask the question. They tell me, just like it happened today, that I did not appear to be from here, and the conversation follows quite like it did today, with the same spirit of banter.
But all levity and small talk aside, it makes you think. Goddamn it, it makes you think.