So What Was This About?
I read this article today on HT, by Sushmita Bose… Can’t help but wonder what was the whole story about? Ok.. i get the part about the taxi driver asking for more money… but then what is “sandesh, peas kachori and aloo dum” about?
Konu batai eeh ka kah rahi hai? Sorry for my “railways” behaviour 😉
You talkin’ to me, Taxi Driver?
LAST SUNDAY, I landed at Delhi airport at nine o’clock in the morning – after a week of hectic holidaying in Calcutta. And after a long time, I’d taken a really early wintermorning flight (by my standards) – one that took off at 7 am.
“Will there be someone to pick you up from the airport?” my mother asked bleary-eyed but hopefully, as she watched me stuff my clothes into my red suitcase at 4.30 am in Calcutta.
Pick me at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning? Nah, Iwouldn’t put anyone through that ordeal. I’ll take a pre-paid taxi
Hmmmmm (tone: melancholic), she sighed. I could almost read her thought bubble: “If she (me) was married she wouldn’t have to undertake a lonely trudge back home from the airport.”
So there was I at the prepaid taxi stand at IGI, waiting in line, thinking about my mother’s melancholic sigh and smiling to myself.
“Where do you want to go?” the man at the prepaid counter was addressing the girl in front of me. The girl seemed confused. I realised why She was a foreigner, and – by the look of befuddlement on her face – I imagined this was her first time in the city.
She called up a number – most likely the guesthouse she was booked into – and handed the phone to the counter guy The counter guy, for his part, asked pertinent questions and figured out where the girl was headed.
Siri Fort Road. That’s where I live too. “Name?” “Sharon.” “Say-ron?” Sharon shrugged her slender shoulders. “Luggage?” One piece, and one handbag, said Sharon. “That’ll be Rs 205.”
I was up next. I had my red suitcase, a handbag, and a carry-bag stuffed with sandesh, peas kachori and aloo dum (yes, I know that’s very ‘railways’ behaviour). “Rs 175,” said the man at the counter, after popping his head out of the kiosk and checking out my luggage.
I get a discount for being domestic, I thought. Or maybe Sharon paid a price for not being one. With my prepaid invoice in hand, I walked out into open air A ‘May I help you?’ chappie rushed in to pick up my suitcase and shoved it into a waiting Omni taxi. I was fishing for a tenner inside my handbag – imagine my surprise when he walked off into the sunrise without even asking for a tip.
We’re almost prepared to handle the Commonwealth Games, I thought. But, of course, I hadn’t taken into account Taxi Driver “Naam?” S Bose, I said, as I handed him the invoice slip. Yes Boss? Well, okay, if you insist. He scribbled down my new name and passed it to the guard at the exit gate. As I sank into the uncomfbrtable seat, surrounded by my luggage (I was dying to tear into one of the peas kachori but was holding my horses), I saw Taxi Driver looking at me through the rear-view mirror.
“Er, your luggage charge – that’s not included in this bill, is it?” “I’m sure it is,” I countered in impressive Hindi. “I told the guys at the counter exactly how much luggage I had.” The luggage charge hasn’t been factored into the payment, Taxi Driver persisted sullenly. Your problem – what am I supposed to do? Pay for the excess baggage, he scowled. Forget it, mate, I shot back. Yes! I was learning the ropes. “In fact,” I continued my winning streak, “why don’t you just call the cops – and let them handle the situation?”
Taxi Driver sneaked dirty looks at me from time to time (from the rear-view mirror) but, mercifully, kept his mouth shut. And after he pulled up in front of my house, he refused to lend me a helping hand to lug out my red suitcase from his car.
But Chhoti came rushing out of the gate and threw herself on me, tail wagging nineteen to a dozen.