By Richa Wadhera

We were a bunch of freelancers – writers, designers, film makers – who got together to try and do our own thing. But we were all venturing into a new space, and we shared ambition, but not necessarily much else.

We set up shop about a year ago, and we had bagged our first client who, by default, was our most valued one. Hence arose the special need to be on time for our first big meeting, to build a professional relationship. We all came with corporate experience, we could totally do this!

Our administration head’s {who also doubled up as ops, and servicing, and whatever else was needed} prompt response was to arrange two cabs for us to make the arduous journey to the client’s office, in the back of beyond. The car that shows up for us 4 people is the rather economical Wagon R. However, the one we were lucky to get was far more economical than others.

Economy of space – there was none {space, that is.}. The front seat didn’t go back, which one would think would be good for the people in the back seat. However, the car in itself forced us to extend our creativity to experimenting with awkward sitting positions, without ending up in each other’s laps.

Economy of safety was another point to be noted. The front seat seatbelt wasn’t long enough to buckle. But the admin head was more than willing to risk his life, in more ways than one, for the sake of our newly acquired account. Us creative team in the back didn’t have any safety concerns – we were packed in like sardines, and this tight unit wouldn’t have moved an inch out of place should the car have crashed into anything. What filled in the few gaps between the three people in the backseat were our bags and huge folders full of giant samples. Wondering why these weren’t accommodated in the boot? Economy of gas. The car ran on CNG and the cylinder took up all the boot space. That would explain all the extra time we got to hang out in the car, and not come anywhere close to exceeding the speed limit.

The doubled journey time, along with physical proximity, got us all over familiar with each other, and hence we didn’t mind running the risk of sweating into each other’s clothes. The air conditioner had sensed the need to better acquaint this newly formed team, and had decided to take the day off. All so we could roll down our windows and sing along with each other on this joyous journey filled with heat, sand from a brewing sandstorm, and a very irate multi-tasker cramped in the front seat.

The driver was also quite a treat. I love a principled man. His priorities in order, his standard response to everything was “this is not my car, I only drive it.” And he took that a little too seriously when he almost drove us off the road, and then into another car. But we didn’t flinch. Hell, we laughed in the face of danger, as we were securely tucked into each other’s armpits.

The car sensed the driver’s arrogance, and as we approached a toll-booth, it began to sputter. We sensed doom, but we weren’t afraid. Our client had to be got to, and we’d walk it there if necessary. We had made it more than halfway. By now, we couldn’t even feel our limbs, or the sand in our mouths.

We were sure we’d survive the rest of the drive, when there, in the middle of a busy traffic light, in the midst of honking agitated drivers, baking in 40 degrees, was the over enthusiastic team of a young start up, optimism in our eyes, in a stalled cab. I was compelled to ask my admin head – How much of a dent could an air-conditioned, decent sized car to get us to our client in one piece, and in the same skin tone as we had left, put in our bank account? “What bank account?” was his response. Touche.

Push had come to shove. There stood the four of us, pushing this cab to the corner of the road, until our usually stoical admin head looked at us, a hint of amusement in his eyes and, straight-faced, announced – YOLO guys.

Over a year in, we all still work closely with each other on projects, and have become close friends, considering boundaries blurred pretty early on in our relationship.  Ambition and ideas aside, we now share a love for long drives, deodorant, air conditioning, and so many more things we’ve discovered over the last year. Punctuality? We’re still working on that!

 This is a part of our fortnightly series, Quill & Ink, which is penned by someone from the editorial team at LBBD. Musings of our life in Delhi, circumstances, experiences, and a bunch of us just… thinking out loud.

{Image courtesy: cartoonists.org.au}