Mujhe bhi Lift Dilade

Something you encounter thrice in the space of one hour, surely deserves a post, isn’t it ?

So dutifully, I dedicate this post to the somewhat disappearing art of hitch-hiking a ride or more ubiquitously known as “getting a lift”.

Living as I do in a city which boasts of the highest number of two-wheelers on road thanks largely to an insufficient public transport system, travelling within the city as much as a nightmare must also be a fertile ground for seeking a lift.

Cars are never good candidates for seeking a lift, atleast within the city.  Given the slow pace at which they are forced to move, walking would certainly be a better option.  And in any case, it is my guess that most car owners are prudish about their prized possession, their car,  and insensitive to the pedestrians. The bike which can swerve and weave its way into the traffic remains the most popular choice of lift.

However, I feel that the practice of seeking a lift is dying a slow death even if it hasn’t vanished fully from the social scene. Understandably so, because the times that we are living in,  in the shadows of terror and scrutiny, it is commonsensical to not offer a ride to strangers.

I wonder where and how this practice of seeking a lift would have commenced.  I guess it would have started at a time when motorized transport was an option and not a norm.  I used to cycle for a good 15 years before I got my first motorized vehicle.  Even when I used to cycle to school or college, I don’t remember offering a lift to many – not that I was sought too often. I vividly remember being “forced” to offer a lift to a boy . I couldn’t refuse him because he didn’t wait for my answer in the first place !

It happened like when I was sliding down a slope very slowly enjoying the feeling, this guy jumped on to my cycle and indicated with his left thumb that he wanted a lift. This guy weighed twice as much as I did and I barely managed to pedal to reach the railway station. Breathing heavily and sweating profusely, as I parked my cycle in the cycle shed, he walked off without saying a word. I wasn’t distraught but felt it was strange behavior. However when I learnt that this boy was speech impaired (one of the benefits of a small town, where someone knows everyone) I felt sorry for him.

Most “lift seekers” are school children especially the ones who are in the mid senior classes who have the “license” to  go to school alone and whose parents haven’t yet provided them with cycles.  The kids are smart too, knowing to use their “Pleases, Annas and Uncles” quite cleverly.  Saying an “Anna” to a real “Uncle” would certain improve the probability of the lift.

Undeterred by the general feeling of insecurity, there are still  some good Samaritans who offer lift to anyone who asks them. Obviously they haven’t had any bad experiences and god willing, let it be the way it is.

There is a brief bonding of the lift seeker and the provider.  The lift seeker who otherwise would have been cursing at the speeding traffic is now the pillion-rider of the offender. Instantly he would switch to how the pedestrians are such insensible jay-walkers.  After having won the approval of the lift provider on the basis of the fact that the lift seeker is also travelling in the same route, the lift seeker sometimes tries his luck on whether the good guy is amenable to some slight detours.  Who wouldn’t want some icing on the cake too ?

In such a situation, the lift provider is in a moral dilemma.  After committing himself to be a better citizen than others, can he now, limit the boundaries of his good social behavior? An interesting problem of “social dharma” I guess.

If both the lift rider and the seeker are smokers, there is a good chance of a greater bonding with the sharing of a cigarette and a chai perhaps.  If the distance is significant enough, some discussions on politics and cricket ofcourse, can also not be ruled out. It must be quite interesting to exchange notes with strangers on what one thinks about the spot fixing scandal for example.

Today as I was riding back to home,  a guy with a huge cardboard box flashed out his thumb which I just ignored. About 6 kms further, another guy approached me at a signal.

‘Sangam circle, bhai sahab’

‘Aage jaayiye’

‘Nahin….aap mujhe chod doge’

Without waiting for my answer he sat on my bike, a case of history partly repeating itself. As the signal changed green, I had no choice but to move and he started explaining his rather impolite behavior.

‘paanch so ka chutta nahin mil raha hai…bus mein bhi aur auto wallah ki pas bhi’.  Stuck with a Rs 500 note, he couldn’t obviously hope to get either an auto or a bus for a distance of 2 kms.  I chuckled and kept going. We didn’t exchange a word except that he tried for an “icing on his cake”.  When I replied in the negative, he got down and as I dreaded didn’t call me “Uncle” but just said “Thank you sir” and walked away.

“Seeking Lift” is a popular scene in hindi films, the obvious scenario being the one in which hero and heroine are lost in a highway. The undesirable aspect of this scene is that the heroine will most probably use ‘sleaze’ to get the lift.

The typical setting would be a case of the heroine wearing a skimpy skirt and with the hero out of the sight intentionally, the heroine would proceed to ‘display’ her sexy thighs forcing the passing vehicle, usually a lorry driven by a Sardarji, to an abrupt stop.  As the heroine engages the driver in conversation, usually in a husky voice, the hero climbs on to the vehicle. Nearly all the scenes that come to my memory atleast fits in with the above descript, though I don’t remember too many.

I wonder what the thighs have to do with seeking a lift. But as a married man, I can’t wonder any more.

The best lift scene that I can think of is from the Tamil movie ‘Apoorva Sahodarargal’ (Appu Raja in hindi) in which Kamal and his current beau Gowthami seek lift from a lorry when they are stranded during a duet song. They continue their duet in the lorry which is carrying a full load of hay unaware that the consignment includes a man who has just been killed.

The scene following that was pretty hilarious with the inspector enquiring about Kamal & Gowthami. The cleaner of the lorry would reply that he knew nothing except that they were probably lovers since they were singing a song.

‘What song ?’

‘La la llla la la llla laa’ the cleaner would respond much to the consternation of the police officer.

Just as I wind up this note, it struck me that I have never sought a lift.  Though I wouldn’t certainly wish to be in a position where I am desperate for a lift, I guess it would be worth the experience to hitch-hike a ride some day.

Using the word “lift”, the only song that I remember at this moment is the one sung by the Pakistani singer Adnan Sami, “Mujhe bhi lift karade” in which Sami gently nudges the Khuda to shower some largesse on him.

Like him, even I beseech Him, albeit very gently, Mujhe bhi kabhi lift dilade, eh ?

About hariharanbond
I am who I am !

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