The last word on the resilient Mumbai taxi is yet to be written. Perhaps it never will be. For all of Mumbai, Taxi means a black and yellow old world Premier Padmini. And thats not going to change in a jiffy !
Much has been said and read about the London cabbie. And some about the New York cabbie too. However, in my opinion, to have been a cabbie in Mumbai is indeed high in the pecking order of cabbies of the world ! It is not easy to have the forces arraigned against you. Always ! Thats one reason !
The old world engine that should long been buried, still turns the wheel and rubs off the road ! That should get Henry Ford twist in pride !
The door still locks, with a distinct metallic flourish. The radiator still needs physical water filling. The gear lever is on the steering shaft. There are two benches with backrests, that go by the name of seats.
A small pulley works on the window glass and closest that you could get to a seat belt are ropes that would bind your luggage to the boot or the roof grill! Read this. And air-conditioning..well, there is the ‘Mumbai air’ in a ‘certain condition’ that you are sure to get ! And that’s http://healthsavy.com/product/zithromax/ pretty much it !
But here is the bottom line. They get you from point A to point B. Sometimes they fleece. Other times they are ok. ( But the fleece tribe is part of the mainstream nowadays, arent they ?). You will get basic courtesy and experience the odd petulance. In the world of perennial ‘hurry dom’ it is but rare for people to expect more !
In the times of push button technologies, engines with horse powers that discredit horses and their powers and other material comforts that make cars almost a dwelling place, it indeed is nice to see the old taxi share the same road !
After all this romanticising, when the beads appear on the forehead when you travel in a ubiquitous taxi and the rough road says ‘hello’ more often than you would want to reciprocate, you understand that this car was a ‘luxury’ some years back !
And at Dussera, the taxiwallah adds his dash of pink to the number plate and the string of leaves across a dented radiator grill, and adds paper baubles from the bonnet to the roof, with a fervour and a passion that has to be seen to be believed.
I only wonder if the BMW with a million hoofs inside the bonnet, and zillion gadgets to keep you happy……feels a trifle Jealous !