Monday, January 12, 2009

Thumbs up to hitchhiking

Just before the inauguration of the prestigious Vashi Railway Station in Navi Mumbai in early 90s, residents used an old bridge linking the area with the nearest station Mankhurd.
The Thane creek bridge, as it was called, witnessed corrosion cracks in merely two years. But people were forced to rely on it for years until a new rail bridge was constructed alongside.
I was among many to stand on the Vashi highway and hitchhike to Mankhurd. There were several goodhearted two-wheeler owners who would readily oblige. I had made several friends that way. One particular guy was a philosophical person who kept repeating the mantra “Time is the best healer.” One day I joked my time cannot heal as my watch had stopped because of cell trouble. Another one asked me for a loan of Rs 100 after picking me up for three days. But he did return it in a week.
One particular day, a white Ambassador car halted after I flashed a thumbs up sign. The one behind the wheels wore a red tie and looked like an executive. “Do come in,” he welcomed me. We had a friendly chat during the travel and when I was about to alight after thanking him, he said: “Gentleman, pass on Rs10.” I was surprised, but paid. The Times of India still runs a column called Citylights where we used to be paid Rs75 for a piece those days. As soon as I entered the office, I filed a Citylight item about the gentleman and got Rs75. Smart, right?

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