“Can I ask two things?” the young, bearded, gray pant-white full-sleeved Mukesh Mehta of Bosch quietly slipped in at the Cafe Coffee Day on a non-stop rainy day in Noida. We were nearing the end of our half-hour rendezvous. Common sense dictated that I listen first before deciding, so I nodded.
“Arrange a road trip in a truck from Bangalore to Delhi” Well, that was his maiden plea.
Multinational executive. That way, everyone is an executive for me. Remember, even the Zomato/Amazon, fulfilling my orders, is called “Delivery Executive”! He is used to “executing” his role by fulfilling his KPI in an airconditioned, cubicled ambiance. Happy dabbling in excel sheets and powerpoints. This aspiring young Rajasthani breed of Bosch wanting a truck ride? Ugh!
My chilled Litchi-filled Rush bottle got hyper cold. Have I heard right? An MNC guy wanting a ride in a truck? I could not control my laughter, and in the process, a few drops of my bottled content spilled onto the 8x3ft glass-topped table. A deja vu moment for me!
The Navi Mumbai-born and settled in Bangalore working for Bosch with an ambition of “Solving Problem in Logistics” (check his Linkedin profile, if you don’t believe!) responded: “I keep hearing about the pain points of truck drivers in the course of my job. So, I think it would be better to get a clear and better perspective by seeing from close quarters.” I am floored.
Tell me, how many white-collar babus (change it to executives if you feel the word “babu” is derogatory. I call even the IAS officers “babus”) would like to experience the challenges of a truck driver? One can count them on their fingertips.
Not a jolly ride. A bumpy, most discomforting journey. In a temperate country such as India, it is hot always outside in a country like India, plus the engine-generated heat inside the truck driver’s cabin. Horrible. Unbearable. Phir bhi, truck drivers, adjust to these conditions -like fish taking to the water.
Will Mukesh be ready for a 72–96 hours truck trip of 2,000Km from Bangalore to NCR? Will he be ready to pick a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi/Coke or Aquafina/Kinley filled with water and go behind the bushes to “fertilize” mera Bharat Mahaan?
He shocks me with, “I am from Rajasthan. I have done that lotta thing.”
Okay, one issue is settled. That’s the toughest part. Educated and MNC chap ready to shit in the open! Gutsy guy. Bravo, Mukesh!
Is it just a conversational filler, or is his demand genuine?
He looks at me as if I have offended him. I got the point. Yeh, banda, serious hai.
Done, deal, buddy!
I remember another MNC executive with the same syndrome in the pre-Covid era. Rajesh Ranjan Jha, Leader of the Center for Logistics Excellence in ACC Limited. Yes, the global cement giant is now in the Adani stable. A good friend and well-wisher. His job demands dealing with truck drivers. But, he seldom rode in a truck. Can I help him? He asks. How can I say ‘No?” Tell me!
Bingo. Rajesh was put on Algor Supply Chain Solutions freight carriers from Mumbai to Delhi over two days. His maiden truck trip it was. There were two challenges: one from his family — his wife and two kids. What nonsense is this? Drop the idea. But Rajesh was stubborn.
The second objection came from my own better half. “You’re a big risk taker. You rode 30,000Km on trucks. Every time, I used to suffer in silence and pray hard for you to return home safely. By God’s grace, you are alive. Now, you’re putting someone in that situation. What if, he meets with an accident? His family will take you to court. I won’t visit you in jail.”
I narrate this to the Bosch guy. Worry not, he responds.
It is not an Uber/Ola radio taxi that will come to his doorstep to pick him up. He has to go to the loading point somewhere on the outskirts of Bangalore city. He agrees. Good. Will there be any objection from his parents of this unmarried scion of a Bombay businessman on such an adventurous trip? He flashes his sweet smile, signaling his acceptance of the risk involved, and none can thwart his desire. En route, he should be ready to eat in the truckers’ dhaba — mostly in unclean surroundings. He nods.
Experience is the best teacher. An ounce of real-world experience is worth a ton of bookish gyan. Chalo, let me dial my Bangalore transporter pals to arrange a bumping ride for the Bosch boy!
What’s Mukesh’s second request? Hang on. I will store it for another dispatch some other time. Ciao!