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Updated: October 11, 2011 17:07 IST

Hindrance or help?

SUDHA UMASHANKER
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A MIXED BAG Acting drivers.
A MIXED BAG Acting drivers.

‘Acting drivers' are a rather interesting bunch of people, and each one has a quirk or two…

Chennai boasts of being home to Kollywood — the second largest film industry in India. It can also boast of its huge base of ‘acting drivers' — drivers who fill in when your old faithful decides to call it a day.

The acting drivers are almost always good drivers but are a rather interesting bunch. Although good behind the wheel, they tend to lack certain ‘softer' skills — which is why you'd be hard-pressed to find one who is willing to open and close your car door for you. Fortunately, I have found the way to overcome this particular obstacle: by pointedly asking them to do so. And, it works.

With acting drivers, you must learn to deal with certain quirks too. I remember one particular driver who appeared to have something against driving in a straight line. He made right-angled turns every third minute, which sent my head spinning. Finally, he proudly claimed to have brought me to my destination five minutes ahead of schedule.

Get lectures...

And, don't ever use your cellphone while an acting driver is ferrying you around. I was once being driven to Valasaravakkam, when I happened to receive a call from an office staffer, and doled out instructions to the staffer to go to Valluvar Kottam. Before I knew, I found myself in Valluvar Kottam! Need I say the driver lectured me on how such passengers who talk on cellphones confuse drivers!

Then there are the over-qualified (they speak fluently in English) and ‘well-off' drivers who are on their own trip. One such told me he had his own vehicle, which was in the garage for some major repair work. Chattering away nineteen- to-the-dozen, he dropped me off at a shopping mall and went off for a drink — a fact I discovered long after he was done for the day. I received a call from him later saying he had bought some chips and peanuts and that he had forgotten to take the rest of the stuff with him, so would I please give it away to my domestic help.

Well-informed and pretty clued in, some of the drivers are full of interesting tidbits about the city, its filmstars and politicians.

But, some of them could get you pretty worked up. Such as this guy — he dropped me off at a sabha, parked the car, turned on the air-condition, pushed the seat back, pumped up the volume from the music system, and drifted off to sleep with the windows rolled up. Though my first thought was about fuel being wasted, I was concerned about the risk he was putting himself at — carbon monoxide poisoning. I told him that, and he got the message — loud and clear.

Keywords: acting drivers

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