35-year old Sanjeev knows the route like the back of his hand. From barren yet beautiful fields to narrow by-lanes and the chaos of Coimbatore city, he drives easily, explaining to me the perils of being paranoid about unknown male drivers. “Never show your fear,” he warns.
With eight taxis and many drivers working for him, Sanjeev runs a small business driving travellers to and from airports near Palakkad. “Stay confident and know your route well,” he tells me. “Be aggressive if you need to be.”
The drivers who work for him are constantly tracked, with none of them knowing where he might be on any given day. “I try my best to take responsibility for the drivers I provide,” says Sanjeev, who took to driving almost 18 years ago.
From being driver to an exorcist to nearly losing his life because of a faulty wheel, his stories are both interesting and enlightening. “The drivers I see today don’t really love their job,” he mutters, as stray goats scramble across the road.
Sanjeev’s only regret remains giving up on school. “Driving different people every day helps me learn more about the world,” he says, swerving to avoid a massive lorry. “My only desire is to see my sons in school, and am working hard for it.”
That Kerala sees many road accidents every year is something he is aware of. “To lose confidence or be afraid of the road would mean I am a failure,” he says, his foot on the accelerator and hands on the wheel. “Don’t let your fears rule you, Madam…stay positive always.”
Besides, Sanjeev knows the route — mountains, roads, markets, lanes — he knows them all. Like the back of his hand.