Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kolkata ki Cabs

I am sure a lot many of us must have heard of the song “XL ki kudiyan…” Well the other day I was traveling to office in cab and I saw a bumper sticker in one of the cabs saying “Kolkata ki Cabs” and I thought to myself… “That’s saying something”.

Those who have been to Kolkata would know what I am talking about. On any road, station, office or any other place; the yellow cabs significantly outnumber the people standing in the queue. With that being the case, one might think that there would not be any commuting problem with such a significant number of cabs available on the road. But they couldn’t be more wrong about this assumption. As it turns out, the cabbies here have hailed from yet another planet (readers may remember that to an outsider Kolkata is another planet from yet another universe. More details at earlier post at http://aashishsood.blogspot.com/2009/09/decaying-city.html). They do not want to go anywhere, irrespective of the destination you may name, the price you may offer or the threats you may throw at them. They would rather sit in the cab on the curbside but would not do an honest days work.

Furthermore, for those of the cabbies that do agree to take you to your destination, you have to be very very cautious. We have had several instances in the beginning where we were taken in a roundabout way for our destination so that the trip, which should have taken around 15-20 minutes, ended up as an hour and a half journey. Yet another amazing thing about these creatures is their amazing sense of driving. I could not have imagined how a person could drive on the tram tracks or the continuous honking of horns despite being stuck in a long jam or ability to drive on the footpath or the art of scaring the shit out of the passengers and walkers alike. But I was given this divine chance to see all of these and appreciate how simple and good my life was before KP (Kolkata Posting) era. But that’s not all folks. Despite the fact that they overcharge you for cab, despite the fact that they take you through longer routes, despite the fact that they drive like madmen on the streets; we also observed that more often than not, their meters are tempered to go at a faster rate.

But still the cabs are the most popular way of travel in the city we know as Kolkata. I wonder why?
Kolkata is dead. Long live Kolkata.

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