Hi. I am Raj. I am a tourist driver in Gujarat since the last 3 years. Not enough experience about knowing roads. I am Just 25 and not really keen on driving, since roads is something I am not great remembering at! I took up this profession because I am from a family of meager earnings and my father left for his heavenly abode before I had a choice to pursue a career. As they say, your profession need not necessarily be your favorite hobby. When others in my generation are taking trips, my profession needs me to cater to their needs.
At times, I stay awake all day and the subsequent night because you have deadlines to reach. All this when majority of you are snoring in the back seat complaining of a tiring journey. Sometimes I even have to skip meals when there are no budget restaurants on our way in the interiors of Gujarat. My stomach grumbles as it listens to your munching chips in the back seat. But only some of you are decent enough to offer me a bite of your snacks. I feel grateful for such passengers boarding my car.
Majority of the times, Gujarat being the state where many Hindu temples are situated, my passengers are pilgrims. Peace loving, but real task masters when deadlines are concerned. I have seen so much of God in the last 3 years that I no longer feel compelled to visit the temples. I prefer waiting outside when you are praying inside, only joining in to have lunch in the dharamshalas. After all, it is almost free of cost. Initially, I used to feel guilty about my indifference towards these pilgrim sites where throes of people visit from all over India. But now I have developed a habit of using these tiny breaks to enjoy a dose of tobacco that keeps me awake for rest of the journey. The God that you are praying inside knows my dilemma and no longer feels offended about it. He knows that if I am drowsy during your trip, chances are that you may not need temples but directly visit him up there!
When you check in dharamshalas for the night, many of these do not have a driver’s quarter and I have to spend the cold night in the car while you are resting in a cozy blanket. But I do not complain, because that is a part of my job. Some of you show pity about how unfair it was to let me sleep in the cold and think about letting the authorities know. You talk in English so that I may not know what you’re secretly discussing. I smile within when I understand each word of yours but still maintain a straight face, glad that at least some of you have a heart and maybe my next visit here will be a better one.
I laugh on your jokes but still miss my family who are waiting for me to end my trip and spend a couple of days with them before I can go off on the next job again. I buy innuendos for my kid back home who awaits my arrival each fortnight with shining eyes expecting gifts and stories of my travel. He thinks his dad has the coolest job in the world to be able to roam different places and earn from it as well. He is still young to know the difference between travelling on your will and visiting because your work demands so. I do not intend to ruin his fairy tale this early in life so I let him believe his dad is the luckiest guy, secretly promising myself that he will not be taking up a forced profession to feed his family.
At least, that much, the Gods I visit will make me capable of doing for my son!