Monday, July 13, 2009
Cab in the rain
It was raining as it only rains in Bombay.i had called for one of those fancy dial-a-cab thingys and was on my way to the airport to pick up my parents who were coming to Bombay for the first time. I gave the cabbie my usual 'take the route with the least traffic' fundas and settled down, plugged into my ipod. It was after a couple of minutes when i realised that the driver was saying something. I thought it would be rude not to give the customary 'hmms' and ironic 'yes'es so i switched off the music player and tried listening to his tirade against BMC and rainy days. Damn i hate talkative drivers.
His monologue continued as i tried to find the appropriate pauses to respond. I dont know when and how it happened, but i found myself transported back to the day when i had first landed in Bombay. It was the sort of a rainy day when flights get cancelled and umbrellas are no good. The driver who was supposed to pick me never showed up. After an hour of waiting i decided to take things in my own hands (i.e i picked up my luggage) and walked up to this guy who was soliciting cab rides. I didnt give a hoot about being ripped off so i dint even ask how much i was supposed to pay. it was when i was in the cab that i was told i'll be paying rs 500 from santacruz to VT and the reality hit me.
'Ripped off' was a cosmic understatement.
I could've made trip(s) from chandigarh to Delhi in that amount. Anyways, i thought i should at least try to reason with the cabbie and make him feel bad about outrageous overpricing and exploiting people in such weather. Being an absolute talent less negotiator, i was going through my 'you should be ashamed' speech in my mind when the driver said 'sir you've been ripped off..should've taken a cab from outside the airport compound'. Silence. End of my speech.
And i babbled something like 'im a student..dont have a place in Bombay..shouldnt have done that'. He said in a sad tone that he's not responsible for it and 350 from the 500 rs will go to the agent standing in the airport compound. Then he went on the explain how the drivers are given an unfair deal and are severely underpaid. He asked me if i have a place to stay in Bombay. I replied in the negative and asked him the same question. He gave me a wry smile and said that its been 5 years in the city and hes still living in an illegal slum colony.
Its funny how all of us in this metropolis are united in homelessness.
I warmed up to him and he kept telling me about the various landmarks which dotted our rather longish journey.
When it was time to leave, he gave me his phone number and said (in english) "call me when need..i come'. I smiled. He told me he's learning english from his daughter as he's joining this cab company where he will pay only a fixed amount to his employers and the rest of the money would be his. Basic english was also mandatory. I said that i'call him surely and said goodbye.
My reverie was broken when the driver announced that we had reached the airport.I tried recollecting the name of the company he was about to join. Im sure it was this cab company only- Meru cabs. I remember thinking at that point of time that the name had sounded a bit funny.
As i was getting out, i asked the driver if he knew a Rakesh in Meru cabs. He asked me which one. I said 'never mind' and walked away.
Maybe the next time.