I get into an auto with a friend, from Khan Market to go to CP. I ask for the charges, he smiles and says "Aap kitna doge?",
I check if there is a meter or not, I see a meter.
He starts the meter,
"Bhaiya aap bahane nahi banaoge? Itti asani se chala diya meter ? Aur koi to nahi chalata?" I joke, he and my friend laugh.
I tell my friend about why I didn't go to India Gate today Morning, I felt unsafe the last time I was on NH24, and it was raining.
He hears it.
"Bilkul sahi kiya aapne, safe na lage na to nahi jana chahiye"
I agree with him and there is a pause.
"Mera khud ka 24 saal ka ladka expire ho gaya kuch din pehle, bike se jaa raha tha, accident ho gaya, khatam. " he continues.
"NH24 pe? " I ask, and then I realize that the question was insensitive.
"Nahi, shaadi mein gaya tha sultanpur ke paas, wahi bike se ghum raha tha, highway pe, chau rasta tha, waha UP mein to gaadi bhi jaise taise chalate hai, usne helmet bhi nahi pehna tha, pickup ne takkar maardi, brain hemorrhage ho gaya, khatam ho gaya"
I don't say anything.
"Waha rishtedaar bhi aise nikle, police ke lafde mein naa pade to FIR nahi karayi, aaj tak mukadma chal raha hai claim ka, abhi kuch din pehle hi hamne source lagwa ke likhawaya, ek mukadma waha chal raha hai, ek yaha karkarduma mein"
I notice his eyes in the rearview mirror, I couldn't face them.
"Ye rishtedaaro se acche to yaar dost hotey hai, rishtedar sirf matlab se hotey hai, shaadi byah mein jao, wapas aa jao, unhone agar kaam kiya hota apna aur palla nahi jhada hota to aaj, mere bete ko insaaf to milta, sarkaar se muawza to milta, ab wakeel kiya hai, wo 10% - 15% commission lega"
My friend who is a lawyer, tell me about the motor vehicles act, how it assesses the person who died and estimates a monetary value the person would've made if he'd have lived till 60, or so I understood.
Our Auto stops at a red-light, I tell him, how I always get stuck at red-light, and I stop at red lights even if I am walking, my friend corrects me that red-lights are when you should cross the road.
"Ye jo padhe likhe bacche hai inko to samajhdaar hona chahiye, itni jaldi kya hai, do minute baad pahunch jayenge"
"Bhaiya, jaldi ka to main bhi samajhta hu, life mein awareness honi chahye"
"Ek cheez acchi bhi hai, ye maze purey lete hai zindagi ke, mere bhai ke beta aur bahu ne abhi thodey paise kama liye to switzerland gaye they ghume, ghar wale bhi kaafi khus hue they, aisa nahi ki sasur boley ki ye mat karo wo mat karo, jaane diya khushi se"
I nod my head, to sign that I am listening to him
"Aisa hi hona chahiye, baccho ko na khul ke azaadi deni chahiye, ye paise leke to jaane nahi saath, kamate ho to khus bhi raho"
He says, I notice a smile on his face.
"Haan, parents bhi aise honey chahiye, azadi doge to bacche aadar karenge" I say in agreement.
"Haan, zyada rok tok karoge to bhi bacche karenge to apni marzi hi, but izzat na denge, jo tumhare paise hai wo tumko pakda denge aur khud ke paise se azadi mehsus karenge "
I voice an agreement.
We reach our stop, I tell my friend that this guy has figured life, "All auto wallahs I know have figured out life" she says. I chuckle.
Incidentally, my best conversations have been with auto wallahs and taxi wallahs.
And barbers, never forget barbers.