Sunday, July 24, 2011

An ode to Mumbai Taxiwallahs

Irrelevant background Information: I have moved out of Mumbai to Delhi and my new “Amrican” company is not as divine as my earlier desi company. People are supposed to work here for earning money (How callous are these bloody imperialistic MNC’s). So the net result is that the quantity and quality (assuming there was any) of my blogs is bound to go down.
Dear Mumbai Taxi Union,

I write to you after having lived for about a year in Mumbai and through this I would like to display my sincerest gratitude to you. On my way back home to Delhi I was wondering about the one thing I am going to miss most about Mumbai. I thought at that stage I will write a sentimental letter to whoever that special someone turns out to be.
And as soon as I landed in Delhi, I had my answer -

My flat is about 20 min ride from the airport. But the Delhi autowallahs assume that I am visitor and always quote a fare (pronounced FAAAYAR) three times the prepaid price. Every time I resort to the traditional vernacular of BC MC to drive home the point that I am a Delhiite. (Please don’t judge me. BC MC are not cuss words. That is the normal way delhites address strangers before any negotiation). Once the fact that I am one among them is established, the fare for the ride is promptly brought down to about 2 times the meter price. After one such heated negotiation, a Delhi Autowallah explained me his price matrix –

Variable Cost – Metered Cost (Per Km basis)
Fixed Cost per month – Police Van Tax + Local Auto association cost + MCD parking cost
Total Cost per ride – Variable Cost + Fixed Cost/Total Number of rides per month
(Judging by his precise matrix, I guess he was an MBA from one of those 100% placement MBA institutes whose “dream on” ads we see on TV)

Thus of the amount commuters pay, a huge chunk goes to the mobile police van, MCD, pollution control and all the other government departments who assist in the smooth running of autos despite of all stupid government regulations and rules which bar them from doing so. Now assuming Mumbai Police is as efficient as the Delhi Police the same cost structure would be applicable to you. You probably pay an extra MNS Tax in case of North Indian drivers. In such a situation, I wonder how do you guys manage to break even??

And yet spoilt Mumbaikars think that you are unruly. I remember audience in PVR Phoenix gave a standing ovation to the scene in Shaitan where the lead actor kicks the autowallah for refusing to go to Vasai, which I know is so far that had it been Europe it would be in a different country. How insensitive can anyone be!!

I wholeheartedly agree to your viewpoint that just like normal people even you are well within your rights to refuse to go to any remote location (There are plenty of such places in Mumbai) or refuse ugly looking male passenger in favour of chicks. When top MNC HR decide to hire only pretty ladies, they are termed as classy but when one of you decide to carry only female passengers you are termed as pervert.

I am sad that no one has raised a voice in your favour. Even Shantaram and SlumDog which have made a legend out of the shittiest shadiest places of Mumbai fail to talk about you. In case anyone of you is planning to launch an online revolution against such atrocities I will support you completely provided like all other modern revolutions this one too is restricted to forming facebook communities and making and liking strong passionate comments. I am a master at such revolutions and can volunteer to be your online union leader.

Sigh!! from now on every time I haggle with an autowallah, I will miss the sheer awesomeness of sitting inside a taxi after telling the destination without worrying about the fare. Mumbai Taxis I will miss you and I hope one day Mumbaikars realize your true worth and start respecting you more.

Yours sincerely,
A Delhite (I could have been a Bangolrean, Puneri or a Chennaite and still the content would have been the same)