Monday, September 18, 2017

Call Drivers


  Call Taxies and Call drivers have become an integral part of our lives these days. This article is about the ubiquitous Call Drivers who have become  essential service providers to all those, particularly senior citizens like me, who own cars but do not have the confidence to drive their cars because of poor reflexes and weakening eye sight.
 
 I had resisted the temptation to hire the services of call drivers for a long time because of a sense of insecurity I felt in hiring them. I did not like the idea of all kinds of strangers coming home and also the thought that my car would be ruined in the hands of such drivers with their varying driving skills was unnerving. However, when  my part time driver quit his job and I found that I don`t need the car every day, I was reluctant but compelled to start using the services of call drivers.  Looking back I realize that over 90 different drivers have had the pleasure of ‘raping` my car in the last one year. A few of them repeatedly.  Yes, that is how I feel every time a driver doesn`t handle the clutch and  gear system properly. As a person familiar with the rules of correct driving, it is a painful experience to sit helplessly in the backseat of the car , when the driver is mishandling your  car.

The service provider whom I have been using claims to have over 1500 experienced drivers on his roll and has given me satisfactory service so far. Except once in the last one year, the drivers generally have arrived five minutes before time. And those who don`t know the area where I live, call me and ask for directions. It helps that most of the drivers have their own two wheelers which enables  them to reach their customer`s place on time.

The drivers not only come in different sizes, shapes, driving skills but also some with irritating habits. There is a Carnatic music fan, who  starts  listening to the music from  his `Thumb Drive`    which he will plug into the audio system as soon as he is ready to drive. If by mistake you ask him `who  the singer is?`, he will start waxing eloquent about Carnatic music, assuming that you are also interested in his favourite passion. Another driver , in his fifties, has this habit of driving very close to the median.  So close  that I would be worried that he might hit the median any time. When I question him on this bad habit, his response, `If I leave a gap some stupid driver will try to overtake me saar, and  I don`t like anybody overtaking me when I am driving!` This guy also has the weird habit of  showing signs with his hand to cars coming from the opposite direction, sitting inside an air conditioned car!

While most of them are the quiet type who hardly talk, there are a few given a chance ,  will start revealing their whole  life story . I don`t mind such types because I pick up ideas for my stories from such talkative drivers. Some who are gossip mongers  happily narrate interesting anecdotes from the lives of a few celebrities whose cars they drive frequently and so  the list goes on.

Whether I like it or not I have learnt to live with the services of call drivers whenever I have to go out in the evenings or travel to distant  places wading through heavy traffic during the day.

This article appeared in Adyar Times issue dt 17-23rd September,2017 under my column `Rajan`s Random Reflections`

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Live for 100 years

`Live for 100 years` is a blessing commonly bestowed  on youngsters by elders. The expression is also used by people whenever they receive an unexpected call or meet someone suddenly.

 “You will live for hundred years- I was just thinking about you and you called.!” Almost every other day, all my life, I have been getting such a response from some one or the other when  I contact them on the phone; or  visit them  without appointment. It looks like I have telepathic ability which is constantly at work. While I used to be happy receiving such blessings when I was young, these days I resent it. I tell my well wishers not to curse me with long life but to wish me a healthy life as long as I live. I have a reason for a change in my attitude.

It is a known fact that because of advanced medical facilities enabling early diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the average life expectancy of people has gone up. From the obituary pages of newspapers you will notice that the average age of people dying of natural causes is   over 80. And there are many who are over 90 years.

 Many senior citizens today have begun to have a healthy second innings post retirement from a career job and are following their passions and live longer. However, it is impossible for them  to stop the natural ageing process leading to  old age related health issues. In spite of their efforts to keep themselves fit and busy with activities we find many old people are afflicted with dreaded ailments like  Dementia, Alzheimer, Parkinsons, etc.  Such diseases not only reduces them to a pitiable state but also imposes tremendous strain on the care givers in the family. I am a witness to many such instances of elders over 80 years among my close friends and relatives giving tough times to their family members. Such care givers, in spite of the love they have for the elders in the family, cannot but pray for the early exit of their dear ones. It is heart wrenching indeed.

 The well to do in our society can afford to appoint full time professional caregivers or admit their elders into old age homes or hospices providing good  care facilities at a cost.  However, it’s the middle class people staying in cramped apartments without the financial resources who suffer the most. Life becomes hell for such families.

I have always felt that those old people who die of sudden cardiac arrest  or those who go to sleep but don`t wake up in the morning are truly blessed people. One day they are alive and  active and the next day they are gone without imposing any burden on their families.

During  my active working days I used to Pray; `God! Give me lots of problems and the courage to face them… make my life interesting`. These days I pray; ` God! Please take me with my shoes on…. when I am still active and useful to society`. I don`t want to be a burden on my family with protracted illness of any kind.
Will God listen to my prayers? Only He knows.

This article appeared in the Adyar Times Issue dated 10-16thSeptember,2017 under my column `Rajans Random reflections`.

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