Delhi’s Proust Questionnaire – Gulesh Chauhan, On the Road
The parlour confession.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
Almost everyone in Ghaziabad’s Karkar village can tell you the directions to her house, she says. Gulesh Chauhan is admired in her neighbourhood as the woman who drives an Uber cab in the National Capital Region. She is already on the road this early Sunday morning — after cooking a meal of ‘aloo matar and namkeen chawal’ for her mother-in-law and son. While dropping her rider at his destination, Ms Chauhan, 42, gamely agrees to become a part of the Proust Questionnaire series in which folks are nudged to make “Parisian parlour confessions”, all to explore citizens’ distinct experiences.
Your favourite qualities in a man?
His behaviour with women whom he meets outside his home should be as decent as it is with his mother, sisters and daughters.
Your favourite qualities in a woman?
She should be affable, affectionate and respectful to her family, as well as to others.
Your chief characteristic?
I’m khuddar (self respecting). I like being on time, and expect the same from others.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
They should be helpful, encouraging, with an ability to listen.
Your main fault?
My schooling ended with the tenth standard.
Your favourite occupation?
Cooking mutton curry for my son.
Your idea of happiness?
Every evening after being done with the work, just before returning home, I drive around for half an hour, playing the songs I like. This is the only time in the whole day that I give to myself.
Your idea of misery or what would be your greatest misfortune?
It has already occurred — the death of my husband, Lilu Singh Chauhan, in 2003.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Koel (a bird).
Where would you like to live?
Your favourite food and drink?
Dal bati churma, beer.
Your favourite names?
Bhawani, Arjun, Pratap.
What do you hate the most?
Chugli (speaking ill of others).
The reform you admire the most?
Dowry Prohibition Act.
The natural talent you’d like to be gifted with?
I haven’t thought about that but my dream is to move to Canada and drive trucks there. Until that happens, I want to be the chauffeur of a nice working lady who can afford to give me a monthly salary of about 30,000 rupees.
How do you wish to die?
Falling asleep at night, and not getting up in the morning.
What is your present state of mind?
Yesterday I earned just 700 rupees. I need to earn at least 2,000 rupees today.
Faults for which you have the most tolerance?
People speaking nastily to me.
Your motto in life?
Waking up on time, sleeping on time.
Her inner life