Bombay, Mumbai or whatever name you address this city by, is constantly on the run. Floods, blasts, strikes have failed to bring the city to a standstill. Everyone is trying to get someplace and they want to get there fast! I am not talking figuratively, nope, I mean literally. Life is all about catching the bus, train or a cab and beating the traffic. Time my friend, is priceless. And yet you spend so much of it just traveling around the city.
Every city has a peculiar cab driver. The New York cabbie is shrewd and the London cabbie is full of wisdom. Welcome to Mumbai, our cabbies are rude, full of unnecessary wisdom, have an attitude and they are doing you a huge favour by taking you from pt. A to pt. B. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t know the way, it doesn’t matter that the jerky ride killed your back and it doesn’t matter that the cab almost hit almost 10-15 pedestrians, 25-30 cars. What matters is that he got you there and you are intact (oh thank God).
So why am I writing his? Well because, I am angered by their arrogance, dishonesty and lack of integrity. I want to relieve myself of the anger, or I might just end up being the serial taximan killer.
I work in an area full of swanky offices and parking is an issue. My relationship with BEST buses is another story altogether. So, I hold on to my dear life and make a run for the nearest taxi. I happily chat with Sneha on the phone or read the papers and voilà, I am at work!
Cut to the evenings. I get out of the office, aching to go home in time to watch friends. I flail my arms at every cab but all are taken. A few empty ones slow down for just a minute, I ask then if they’d oblige and take me to Dadar. They shake their head, give me a sad look and zoom off!
Yes, they refuse to take me where I want to go!
This is a day when the rain isn’t threatening to drench me and believe me, its a happy situation. When it rains, the traffic is worse and I am flailing my non-umbrella wielding arm to stop any cab I see. I see a lot of them empty, but with their doors locked and windows rolled up. They refuse to take any of the passengers, gape at drenched women in a vulgar manner and make their way out.
Some of the ones forcibly opened, claim they are running out of gas. But happily accept a fare for Andheri after you curse and get out. This has happened to me not once but about 10 times and I don’t know how to get some authority to punish them for such unprofessional behaviour!
Now, today there’s a brand new reason I’m pissed with the men in balck and yellow. It’s their job to take me to my destination and their job profile requires them to know the friggin’ roads! But fine, I’m ready to show them the way but the dude must ask! He takes a turn he does not need to, takes me on an extra long ride! When I argued with him, he said that I was mistaken and that his way was the right way. Okay whacko! On reacing the destination i can’t believe that the meter reads almost twice the amount I usually pay. I ask for the tariff card. He merrily shows me the October 2000 card which is the wrong one. A brand new tarriff card has come into being from 2007 and acording to that card the price I need to pay is 10 bucks lesser. I am irrtated. I am convinced he has tampered with the meter. Consumers forget to ask them questions and these guys try and make that extra buck by cheating them.
“Why do so much natak (drama) for 10 rupees?” He shamelessly asks me. How do I explain this stupid man that it’s not a question of those 10 extra rupees but that of integrity. I want to ask these questions even if it means 10 minutes of my precious time is wasted. There are a number of times my female friends have had horrifying experiences on account of their taxi drivers. Some have even been sexually harassed. If all of us bother asking, maybe they will start behaving themselves.