Lifestyle Viral and Trending 14 Oct 2018 On the contrary: Thr ...
Ajit Saldanha has a finger in the pie, and another on the political pulse. And when he writes, he cooks up a storm.

On the contrary: Three men in an ambassador

Published Oct 14, 2018, 7:16 am IST
Updated Oct 14, 2018, 7:16 am IST
Many moons ago my professional duties involved accompanying my Italian buyer, Valerio, to the granite quarries of the Deccan plateau.
Ambassador car (Representatiomnal image)
 Ambassador car (Representatiomnal image)

Many moons ago my professional duties involved accompanying my Italian buyer, Valerio, to the granite quarries of the Deccan plateau. Back then, communication with him was impossible without frequent recourse to an Italian-English dictionary, but with the passage of time, we progressed to Valspeak, a curious combination of heavily accented English, laced with desi and Sicilian swear words. Like most expats, Valerio held strong views on India and since he had no pretensions to political correctness, he was never bashful about airing them.

On one memorable occasion, he ventured to the distant reaches of Ilkal - “the last place God made” - with a well-nourished supplier named Seengh. Ilkal is a murderously hot, dusty little village in the wilds of Bijapur District and, at the risk of offending the natives, one has to say that a visit there has all the allure of root canal surgery without anaesthesia. And now, over to Valerio for his version of events: ‘I tole to Seengh, come five thortee ok, don’t be late, he say no problem.

 

In India, if they say no problem, ees beeg problem. So I waiting, 5.30 no Seengh, 6.30 no Seengh, 8.30 Seengh he arrive. Heh, heh Seengh, what ees the time I say? No saar, morning time I am having some motion problem, he say. Eat banana, Seengh, I told him. Then I look the car: same old Ambassador which the British cheat you idiot people for fifty years. East India Company is now became Hindustan Motor. Tell me, why all the Indian minister theenk thees car is patriotic symbol, even British they throw out thees sheet car thirty years back. Only in India is possible to find thees bullock cart with engine. I ask Seengh why you no breeng good taxi? Again he say, no problem. He tell me he spend 18000 on maintenance. I say, porca miseria Seengh, you are eediot. Why you waste money? Give to me and I spend on drink and girls for one week. We go outside, there is new driver with criminale face, name is Ramesh, combing the hairs and sitting in the complete corner like small monkey. Why all driver in India sit on one side like there is no space? I say why you breeng new driver? He say to test. I say Seengh, is my life so cheap for you, take to Cubbon Park for testing, why breeng with me? Did you took LIC policy on my name?

 

Anyway we move and thees car don’t also reach two kilometre, there is one beeg noise ‘Kaboom’ - the door, he come off. So we stop, the criminale Ramesh, he took some rope from the dicky and tied it the door. We move again, ‘Thoom’ one more beeg noise, the bonnet, he open. Some more rope. Then, after 5 km, he stop. What now, I ask, sometheeng else is broke. No, he say, the sala banjo driver he want to take chai. So they open the rope from the door and all go to take chai. Me I sleep in the car. Suddenly someone he come to the weendow with one glass chai with four fingers inside: Tea, saar. You imagine: one ok, two we can manage, three no problem, but four fingers!! Leave eet, I said. Eef I dreenk thees, I sheet for three months… continuous.”

 

Then they all come back, tied up the doors and the car don’t start. Chiggee, chiggee, chiggee he make noise, but he don’t start. Then Seengh he say, Oh ho a/c pump is not working. I say Seengh, you get intelligence of three month monkey, thees car don’t got a/c. Then Seengh he tell me this is a part of the engine of thees sheet British car. My dear, why you theenk James Bond drive Alfa Romeo, why Schumacher drive Ferrari? British they don’t know to make car or good food. So then we look for cold water to put on thees pump. They don’t got water. Me I am sleeping, then they took my nice, cold mineral water to put on thees a/c pump to make cool. After some time, the car start, they tie up everything, we start to move. I wake up, there is no water.  I say, wait Seengh, you get some more rope? He say, why Mr. Valerio, something else is broken? I say, no Seengh, nothing is broke. I need rope only because I want to hang you from thees tree. After I hang myself for agreeing to come Ilkal with you!

 

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