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

Vishal Rawlley vishal.rawlley at gmail.com
Fri Aug 10 21:30:22 IST 2007

dear amy,
my conversatins with taxi drivers are immigrant to immigrant. most of us in
the city are immigrants. i am asked questions by them too: am i married?
what rent do i pay? why am i not on my bike today? where is madam these
days? why dont you join this pyramid scheme? - thery are equally curious
about me, they give me advice on life.

i come from a documentary background, using audio recordings, photos and
video to document various aspects of the city. however once you congeal all
the metaphors from the research, it can be best, at times, to write a
narrative based on that. a screen writer friend of mine has done exactly
that. a beautiful story called 'ek tera saath' or '1-13-7' in numericals
that reads the same in hindi. this is a story of a taxi driver and his
devotion for lord krishna, who appears to him in person one day...

anyhow a video documentary could still be a wonderful exercise. i love
kabi's audio recordings though. sometimes audio recordings can be more
evocative. if you have any further ideas that you might want to share,
please do. but what is that makes taxi drivers in bombay more fascinating to
you and kabi than taxi drivers in the US and UK? why the inter-continental


On 8/9/07, Amy West <cymruwest at yahoo.com> wrote:
> 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?
> best,
> amy
> *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.
> best,
> vishal
> 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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