[Reader-list] Bombay Taxi Project - Meter Down Podcast

Amy West cymruwest at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 9 23:13:43 IST 2007

dear kabi and vishal,
  i was reading these emails on Sarai and thought i'd respond to both of you. for me, i have been interested for a long time in doing a project - eventually a documentary? - on taxi drivers. my interest is regarding the immigration aspect and the flash fiction-esque way in which we jump into the backseat of a cab and can engage in someone's life for a few minutes. i have ideas fleshed out on all kinds of metaphors with regard to the idea of transport and the interplay with the citizen vs. immigrant, but this requires an in-depth conversation. 
  any chance there is a desire to produce an inter-continental look at this (i am located in the States) and if so, can we get interest in terms of support under which we can work to get these narratives published or eventually put into a documentary? i may have the ability - once there are a collection of narratives to get the documentary piece figured out on this end...any ideas?

Vishal Rawlley <vishal.rawlley at gmail.com> wrote:
  dear kabi,
your project sounds very interesting. i have been working on/ with taxi
drivers for a long time and i find some of the ideas you have very similar
to mine.

i have extensively documented the sticker art on mumbai taxis for several
years, this project is part of my documentation of city signage called
Typocty. Please see www.typocity.com and under the Documentation + Analysis
section scroll down to 'Taxis: number plates + sticker art'. You can find
more on the radiumwallas and their craft under the Projects + Workshops
section - click on Taxi Art.

i have also conducted a number of workshops with radiumwallas for art
students and also collaborated with them on design projects. i know a number
of radium wallas and taxi drivers on a personal basis. they know about my
interest in them are are quite friendly now.

i find your idea of recording conversations with them very interesting. a
oral history project that i initiated years ago is called 'Bombay Sonic',
one episode of this project can be listened to at:
www.bombay-arts.com/netart/bombaysonic.html (my website is
www.bombay-arts.com )

i have also been interviewing taxi drivers for a long time, mainly to work
out narratives for a potetial story series called 'Taxi Tales'. i do not
have recordings, only notes, as my conversatons are far too many and casual
and spontaneous. i have also collected Taxi Tales from other friends who
have had interesting conversations with taxi drivers.

i am glad that someone is actually recording these conversations. good luck
with your project.


On 8/3/07, kabi cubby sherman wrote:
> As part of a larger project on Bombay taxi drivers ( kaali-peeli ki
> kahani), I have been recording conversations with cab drivers, with their
> permission of course, as we ride from one place to another in the city. I
> am now podcasting these conversations as episodes in a podcast called Meter
> Down. The language is Hindi. I consider this project an oral history, a
> verbal record, that explores the questions of migration and mulak, bombay
> and change, taxi-driving and life. The cabbies, of course, also tell some
> wonderful stories.
> You can listen to these conversations at http://meterdown.wordpress.com,
> a blog on which I also post photos of the drivers and their taxis. Outtakes
> of some of the wonderful bits of these conversations are also posted on the
> site for listener convenience.
> I am an ex-taxi driver myself and have been working on this Bombay taxi
> driver project for a year now. Taxi drivers write the city: they move
> through its streets and collect its stories. They track its changes while
> journeying with their passengers through its transformations and they
> experience the absence of the old. Yet they are also the subjects of these
> changes. Driver-owned old taxis are being forced out of service and their
> permits cancelled. New private taxi fleets with 'modern' vehicles are vying
> for these permits but refuse to hire most of the drivers. The drivers'
> futures are uncertain. A majority of the drivers are migrants, each with his
> own sense of home. I am interested in this internal migration, the movement
> of people from the villages to a city that looks away from these villages
> and outward into a globalising world. what did the taxi drivers leave
> behind? what dreams did they bring and what dreams remain? where is home
> now?
> The project also includes documenting and photographing the personal and
> creative designs that cab drivers employ to make each taxi a signifier of
> the self: words on the back windows that act like clues, rexine mudflaps,
> mirrored ceilings, patterened seat-covers, radium patterning and painted
> mechanical meters. I print these images to fabric and create textile pieces.
> I buy old steering wheels and wrap them using plastic flourescent rope,
> making patterns by putting radium underneath, as I learned to do from an old
> radiumwala. I use rearview mirrors and photos of drivers' eyes to make 'gaze
> pieces'.
> But it is these podcasts that are the ballast. Please give them a listen.
> I have currently posted two episodes on the blog and plan to post another
> conversation every 15-20 days. I appreciate feedback, suggestions,
> critiques, etc. There is a place on the blog for comments or you can email
> me at this ID.
> If you have Itunes, you can search for 'Meter Down' and subscribe to the
> podcast or download episodes from there, esp. if bandwidth is a problem.
> Meter Down is also listed in some podcast directories such as Podcast Alley,
> Odeo (tho only 1 episode showing) , podcastingnews, and Google using meter
> down podcast search terms.
> regards,
> kabi
> http://meterdown.wordpress.com
> ---------------------------------
> Park yourself in front of a world of choices in alternative vehicles.
> Visit the Yahoo! Auto Green Center.
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