Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Good Conductor

We didn’t know his real name, and it didn’t occur to us to ask.

Taklu Conductor was the highly uncomplimentary name that one of the girls gave him. And it stuck. Before long, we were all calling him that. It was a name inspired by his bald pate, taklu being the streetside Bambaiya Hindi word for bald. As smooth as a baby’s bottom his head was, we told ourselves giggling.

He was the conductor on the school bus that took us from home to school and back. Other conductors were indistinguishable, their buses known by a landmark on their routes. Ours proudly went by the name of Taklu Conductor’s bus.

And rightly so, for Taklu Conductor was miles of streets ahead of the others who did the same job.

As a conductor, his duties weren’t all that hard. Maintain law and order in the bus, and assist the driver when he was reversing the bus to ensure that no one was hurt as the bus reversed. But it was the dedication and delight with which he performed these simple tasks that won him hearts.

He took charge of us, ensuring that no one put their hands out through the bars of the window. Fights over who got how much window space, and who had the window seat and who had to make do with the aisle seat didn’t last long either when Taklu Conductor was the mediator. On his watch, girls learned to share window space. Those who sought to push the window panes forward or backward learned soon enough that it didn’t please Taklu Conductor.

Woe betide anybody that dared to tease or belittle any of us girls. Taklu Conductor would be Fury unleashed, an angry father, no less.

With him on board, boring rides on the city streets were transformed as Taklu Conductor regaled us with interesting anecdotes about things that had happened in his village. We marvelled at the different kinds of adventures he had had, the wondrous events that had befallen him. At other times, he led us in singing the latest Bollywood melodies and the oldies with equal felicity, transforming the bus into a great Picnic-on-wheels.

Once an unexpected digging on the roads led the driver to take an unscheduled detour and route to drop us off at our stops. Taklu Conductor fretted non-stop, suggesting alternative routes that would get us home at the earliest. This was pre-cellphone era.

A girl once vomited inside the bus, an action that provoked the wrath of the driver and frightened the girl even more. Taklu Conductor cheerfully offered to clean up the mess, provided the driver shut up and stopped upsetting the girl.

For our sake, he stored in the bus cabin a fully stocked first aid kit, which came in handy, whenever somebody was hurt or whenever somebody attempted acrobatics in the bus.

Many a school girl afraid of her teacher and keen to play hooky changed her mind about bunking school at the thought of missing Taklu Conductor. The girl who did so anyway received a stern lecture on the significance of the education she was receiving, something he never had growing up.

But he was learning. He had a copy of the English primer, probably something his little daughter, who also studied in our school, had outgrown. Taklu Conductor would try to teach himself to read and write with it, with us, his volunteer-teachers, egging him on.

It wasn’t for nothing that we were the envy of our other school mates.

Today when I see my children off at the school bus stop, I am not entirely at ease regarding their safety and I quell my anxious fears through prayer. Back then, none of the parents of the girls on Taklu Conductor’s bus had the slightest doubts or fears about their children’s safety. Taklu Conductor inspired that kind of confidence.

He was a Mother Hen on whose watch nothing untoward could ever befall his wards. A simple man, who had the undisputed affection of all the girls who took his bus.

When I came to know about Tata Motors’ contest, inviting bloggers to talk about a person who has touched their lives, a simple, ordinary person who is #madeofgreat and who touched others with his simplicity and goodness, I was reminded once again of Taklu Conductor.

Today’s school children, and parents too, need more Taklu Conductors on their buses, and in their lives.

If you were touched by my account of Taklu Conductor, and wish to leave a comment, the organisers of this contest would like you to answer a simple question: 

What do you think of Tata Motors' association with Lionel Messi?

The best comment can win you an Amazon voucher worth Rs 750.

So go on, answer the question, and don't forget to say something nice about Taklu Conductor while you're at it. Wherever he is, the Good Conductor has certainly earned every bit of praise he can get.


  1. The story of a Legend in himself – that’s how I will describe it in a short sentence. Very well written with words which enhance the simplicity yet greatness of the person. Salutations and very happy for you to have got inspired and bringing out your best in life.

    My answer: Tata is a name which any and every person can rely on for its honesty, commitment and perseverance. Lionel Messi is a legend who has carved his name in history books with total dedication to the game, simple living and improvisation which is seen with each game he plays. The association of Tata Motors and Lionel Messi as their Brand Ambassador will definitely give an edge to the Tata group over its competitors solely because the brand Ambassador also holds the same reputation of not letting his fans down ever, like Tata Motors who have given the best to the world over the decades. Its an exemplary association par excellence.

    You can choose my answer as the Voucher winning comment if you feel I described it all well.. :) Please remember to post it on the Indiblogger contest page today as soon as you have 3 comments here..

  2. Hi Cynthia,
    you have put together a really inspirational post.Kudos to you for your writing style.
    Indeed a nicely written post. I wish you good luck for the contest
    Here is my answer
    The association of Tata Motors with Lionel Messi is that of two greats. Lionel Messi has been exceptionally talented who with his hard work, determination and sacrifices has got better and tougher in his chosen sport so is the Image, reputation and quality of TATA Motors that have transformed brilliant ideas into masterpieces of engineering and created a brand and products that we are so proud of as Indians. Lionel Messi has transformed his body and the mind body co-ordination into a masterpiece of precision and excellence it would not be wrong to say that Lionel Messi is the TATA Motors of sports where as TATA Motors is the Lionel Messi of vehicles both giants in their own spheres driven by the drive to excel and lead by example. So Lionel Messi is the best choice for becoming the brand Ambassador for TATA Motors

  3. Tata Motors' association with Lionel Messi spells a significantly notable alliance that will steer the company towards favourable benefits. I always acknowledge Tata Motors as a distinctive name in Auto industry, which will not let the success 'larger-than life' elude from its fate now with a timeless guild with iconic figure Messi. I don't see this union of Tata Motors as an aspirational effort for garnering some quick publicity and evoke specific reaction from myriad crowd with Celeb branding, but is rightly an embellished handshake for keeping up the pace to get to the pinnacle of success graph. To sum things up, I am joyous to see the brand and the star uniting for 'One in a Million' #madeofgreat power-packed drive ahead :)

    Shilpa Bindlish

  4. Your post defines #madeofgreat to the hilt. Goodluck for the contest
    My answer is:
    Authenticity, reliability, simplicity, as well as its commitment to innovation are the pillars of strength on which TATA have built a brand that has put India on the global map. It is a brand that has stood the test of time just like Lionel Messi who tackles opposition on the field with his skill,agility,strategy,brilliance and raw power to reach and score a goal so has been the track record of TATA motors who has become a brand leader and a global giant. These qualities make TATA Motors and Lionel Messi perfect partners who stand for the same set of values thus Lionel Messi is the perfect brand ambassador to represent TATA Motors.
    Hope my best to be a winner here; do contact me for the prize at
    fingers crossed

  5. So much warmth in your words, Cynthia! I don't think he will ever come to know that you've written about him, even thought about him. I share your thoughts of the insecurity we face in leaving our children in schools and school buses today. Glad to have visited here today :)

    Of the thousands of thoughts moving around the Messi-Tata Motors association, here’s a new insight. Messi is also the ambassador for UNICEF for his noble deeds for the betterment of children across the globe. That’s something that truly touched me, more than the football
    legend in him. On the other side, our Tata Motors could think of making several Indian middle class dreams alive with their Nano. Definitely there’s a touch of humanity behind this. Their association sounds to me like humanity meets humanity!


  6. Your post defines #madeofgreat in an awesome manner.Very well written and interesting post indeed.
    My Answer
    Tata Motors is a brand that makes durable vehicles, with its MADE IN INDIA mark makes every Indian proud. It is a brand seen globally as Trusted, Reliable, Innovative and at the forefront of technology. In its journey since inception it has overcome all odds, competition, and adversities with grit and determination. These same qualities are associated with Lionel Messi who was very talented and hardworking from a very early age. With each game that he played he kept improving his skills and built a career to become one of the best player of professional football. There qualities make both TATA Motors and Lionel Messi giants who perfectly compliment each other and Lionel Messi the right and perfect Ambassador who stands for the same values that TATA Motors does.

  7. Yours is a very well written post your .Its is a very nice description of #madeofgreat
    TATA Motors is a brand associated with performance, endurance and excellence. These words are also synonymous with Lionel Messi who plays as a forward and weaves his magic on the football field.Just as Lionel Messi is considered the best footballer in the world ,TATA motors which is Indias premier automotive manufacturer gives wheels to the people of India with its wide range of vehicles. Both believe in excelling in whatever they do and set examples for others to follow. They compliment each other as both are reliable trustworthy and leaders thus Lionel Messi is the natural choice as the brand ambassador of TATA Motors

  8. Thank you for sharing a brilliant post that makes us believe in humanity once more, all the best to you :)

    When it comes to impact and impacting millions of lives, Yes, we can see both Tata Motors and Lionel Messi being the pioneers here. While the very name Tata is enough to make us go back to all our history books where we have seen there hardly is a comparable name that has contributed so much to the society in such an ethical manner, the very name Messi conjures up images of a boy-man who has turned the world upside down with his talent, determination, discipline and never-give-up spirit. The compatibility between the values they both share is intense and that is the reason this partnership works perfectly.

    With a concern for the society at large,everything that Tata has done has inspired us to dream big, conquer the world and pour all our energy back into the society to do good and inspire good. By facing his demons, Messi has done the same. He enjoys a God-like status in the world today because he dared to dream, achieved the sky and still hasn't lost his humanity a bit. He is still a child at heart and he gives back with his multiple philanthropic activities just like Tata does!

    Talk to any person in India, ask them about the companies they admire the most. Tata is right there at the top. This name is beyond bottomline, spreadsheets, return on investment and share price. It is equivalent to soul of India-soft, kind, diverse, dynamic, eternal. Just like that Messi has emerged as not just another football player but someone whose very life is an inspiration, whose personal struggles are a template for others to emulate and who has morphed into an eternal legend.

    While it would take eons to write about what makes Tata Motors and Messi great, as their list of achievements is too long for us to even skim over, suffice to say that this partnership is for the ages. As they say, some things are made in heaven :)

    Thank you for this opportunity.
    -Richa Shailendra,



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