Surprisingly, this post is not about me as a parent or I talking about my child. This is me as a Mumbaikar enjoying a slice of my adopted city every day.
For the last 2 months, I have been traveling a lot in app-based taxis. They are expensive, but frankly speaking, being splashed on with mucky water is not my idea of monsoon fun. Anyway, to cut down the cost, I have been opting for “share” and “pool”. Believe me, it’s an eye-opening experience every time I take one.
I have had some memorable moments – some enjoyable, some humorous and some, errr…crazy ones.
The social media addicts
Once when I booked a shared cab, a brand new brown Wagon R stopped in front of me. I saw a couple sitting at the back. So I opened the front passenger door, but what do I see, a huge 4-wheel suitcase on the seat. So, obviously, I sat beside the couple in the back. The couple was newly married, I could see a shiny chuda (wedding bangles) on the girl’s hands. The guy was sitting between his wife and me, and was mighty uncomfortable, as most “sharrif” (decent) North Indian men are. Anyways, a chatterbox, I started talking to them. Oh, by the way, the boot was full too with huge suitcases. On talking with the couple I came to know that they were visiting Mumbai on a fun trip. I gave them a few ideas on what to see, where to eat and shop. On the way, I asked the cab driver (who was a polite guy) to show them Bachchan’s bungalow, given that it is a huge draw for tourists. They were first excited, but when they actually saw it, I could see their faces falling down.
“It’s so small!” They exclaimed.
“It’s big by Mumbai standards”, I replied.
“Hamare Chandigarh mein to har kisi ki itni badi kothi hoti hai, yeh kya khaas hui!” – In Chandigarh, every other bungalow is huge, I don’t see anything exciting.
“But, it’s quite expensive!” I felt I needed to defend my adopted city.
“Ya, but we have expensive houses too in Chandigarh!” came pat the reply. I didn’t feel like replying to it.
It’s Bachchan’s house. The USP is – it is Bachchan’s house. Period.
We dropped them at Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. I just could not contain my curiosity and ended up asking them, “How come you took a shared cab!” People who could afford one of the most expensive hotel stays seriously don’t need to share a small Wagon R with strangers.
“Oh, it was a genuine mistake. It was our first booking on Ola, and we thought ‘share’ option was that it would share our status on Facebook!”
My mouth opened up involuntarily and my eyes kept on staring them incredulously! Later on, of course, I had a good laugh over it with my friends.
Seriously! The social media-addicted youth of India! God only save us!
People who don’t care for others’ time
On a Monday morning, I booked my cab at 7 am. I needed to reach my destination at 8 am. I thought I had ample time and I would reach on time. The driver came bang on time and greeted me ‘good morning’. I thought it was a good morning too. The next second sounded the buzzer to inform there was a second passenger. We took him in. And, then there was a third. His address wasn’t easy to understand. So the cabbie called him up. The person says, “When you reach this particular chemist, take a u-turn and then take a left from the pan-patti.”
We got to the chemist and took a u-turn, but couldn’t for the life of us find this pan-patti. It was 7:25. Which pan shop opens up at this hour.
So we kept on moving in circles. The person was not reachable as he was in the elevator or some godforsaken place out of reach of the call network. So after 15 minutes, we could finally get through him and got a proper address out of him. It was 7:40. And, so it was 8:20 by the time I finally reached my destination (thankfully, mine was the first drop).
The interesting conversations with cabbies
Apart from interesting co-passengers, you get to talk to the cab drivers too. Their was once this driver who ran a small time agency that provided junior artistes in Bollywood movies. But his once thriving business was hit hard by the demonetization, and he opted to be a taxi driver to survive.
Then there was a cabbie who humbly claimed that his track record was so good that Ola gave him maximum rides with women passengers. God bless him!
Then there are ones who are either exalting Modi government or cursing it.
And then, there are times you get some weird ones too! Like one time, there was this young lad who took me on the wrong route. When I pointed out to him, he didn’t reply. Just the day before I had read a disturbing post on someone’s Facebook wall about how a driver had misbehaved with her. I was about to raise an alarm when the taxi stopped and the driver looked back at me. My heart was in my mouth! And then he said apologetically, “Madam, it seems I am lost. Do you by any chance know the correct way!” Oh, and then I let out a sigh of relief!
There was this cabbie who throughout the journey was badmouthing Ola and Uber, and how they were sucking poor cabbies. According to him, all these app-based taxis would shut shop in a few months, as they were doing very badly. This was on the day when the news of Ola raising fresh funds were splashing all over the news.
Well, whatever said and done, I am enjoying these everyday taxi rides and wouldn’t have it any other way! What about you? Do you have some interesting taxi ride stories to share??