What’s So Awesome About Being a Taxi Driver
The sticker pasted on the left hand corner of the mirror, is readable to any passenger. “Drive slowly, and reach safely.” My family – my wife, my eight year old son, and nine year old daughter engaged a taxi for sight-seeing in Mumbai, the busy metropolises. We visit this city for the first time. The taxi charges were reasonable-Rs.750/- for 80 kilometers and for 8 hours, with travel-as-you-like facility.
“I have been a taxi driver in this city for the last twenty years and know the arterial roads of the city. But never miss the sea beach of Juhu to see the young lovers in action after the sunset.”
“What is so special about this city?”
“Crowds and more crowds. Congestion and more congestion. The city is going mad. People from all parts of India are pouring in here….Well; I don’t blame anyone for that. I too came here in search of a job about 20 years back. I took to this job and hold on to it till now.”
“Just cover up the expenses…only those who fleece the gullible passengers can afford to earn something substantial. Sir, being a religious person, I will not do that. I will give you a clean and honest tour and would try to save each kilometer to which you are entitled, without taking the wrong or circuitous routes.”
That was a positive assurance to a newcomer to the city like Mumbai, where the chances of getting lost were bright!
“Drive slowly” was not an empty assurance-soon we realized that one cannot drive fast in the congested roads of Mumbai. The traffic and the movement of the people was awesome we wondered from where these people arrived and where they were going. Everybody seemed to be in a hurry to reach their destinations. Driving is adventurous, but our driver was relaxed, at times rebuking the jay-walkers, who came in front of the vehicle. How he managed to drive through the yellow light, beating the red-light on a number of occasions! For every kilometers or so, there were traffic lights to block speed and sap one’s initiative.
The best part of our trip was the jovial nature of our taxi driver. He kept on commenting about the silly nothings about the life in the city, the struggle of the poor for accommodation and water. His style of conversing was interesting. He was familiar with each suburb and provided as much information as is possible.”…..this is the famous temple, this is Mount Mary’s Church, majority of the movie stars live in Pali Hill, this area is dominated by business magnates, the slums that you see are in the same condition for the last twenty years, overcrowding in suburban train is tremendous, twenty years ago, land and flats were very cheap…etc.
He applied breaks near a slum area and pointing towards it, he said, “I have a two room tenement in this slum.”
I wondered why he could not buy his own flat though he has been earning as a taxi driver for the last twenty years in Mumbai….and soon I got the answer.
At the end of the journey when I offered him a fifty rupee note as tip, he politely declined, “Sir that is not mine. I accept money for my labor only. You have paid it and let me thank you for that!”