Mumbai taxis and ME! My topsy turvy rides!

taxi ride

Surprisingly, this post is not about me as a parent or I talking about my child. This is me as a Mumbaikar enjoying a slice of my adopted city every day.

For the last 2 months, I have been traveling a lot in app-based taxis. They are expensive, but frankly speaking, being splashed on with mucky water is not my idea of monsoon fun. Anyway, to cut down the cost, I have been opting for “share” and “pool”. Believe me, it’s an eye-opening experience every time I take one.

I have had some memorable moments – some enjoyable, some humorous and some, errr…crazy ones.

The social media addicts

Once when I booked a shared cab, a brand new brown Wagon R stopped in front of me. I saw a couple sitting at the back. So I opened the front passenger door, but what do I see, a huge 4-wheel suitcase on the seat. So, obviously, I sat beside the couple in the back. The couple was newly married, I could see a shiny chuda (wedding bangles) on the girl’s hands. The guy was sitting between his wife and me, and was mighty uncomfortable, as most “sharrif” (decent) North Indian men are. Anyways, a chatterbox, I started talking to them. Oh, by the way, the boot was full too with huge suitcases. On talking with the couple I came to know that they were visiting Mumbai on a fun trip. I gave them a few ideas on what to see, where to eat and shop. On the way, I asked the cab driver (who was a polite guy) to show them Bachchan’s bungalow, given that it is a huge draw for tourists. They were first excited, but when they actually saw it, I could see their faces falling down.

“It’s so small!” They exclaimed.

“It’s big by Mumbai standards”, I replied.

“Hamare Chandigarh mein to har kisi ki itni badi kothi hoti hai, yeh kya khaas hui!” – In Chandigarh, every other bungalow is huge, I don’t see anything exciting.

“But, it’s quite expensive!” I felt I needed to defend my adopted city.

“Ya, but we have expensive houses too in Chandigarh!” came pat the reply. I didn’t feel like replying to it.

It’s Bachchan’s house. The USP is – it is Bachchan’s house. Period.

We dropped them at Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. I just could not contain my curiosity and ended up asking them, “How come you took a shared cab!” People who could afford one of the most expensive hotel stays seriously don’t need to share a small Wagon R with strangers.

“Oh, it was a genuine mistake. It was our first booking on Ola, and we thought ‘share’ option was that it would share our status on Facebook!”

My mouth opened up involuntarily and my eyes kept on staring them incredulously! Later on, of course, I had a good laugh over it with my friends.

Seriously! The social media-addicted youth of India! God only save us!

People who don’t care for others’ time

On a Monday morning, I booked my cab at 7 am. I needed to reach my destination at 8 am. I thought I had ample time and I would reach on time. The driver came bang on time and greeted me ‘good morning’. I thought it was a good morning too. The next second sounded the buzzer to inform there was a second passenger. We took him in. And, then there was a third. His address wasn’t easy to understand. So the cabbie called him up. The person says, “When you reach this particular chemist, take a u-turn and then take a left from the pan-patti.”

We got to the chemist and took a u-turn, but couldn’t for the life of us find this pan-patti. It was 7:25. Which pan shop opens up at this hour.

So we kept on moving in circles. The person was not reachable as he was in the elevator or some godforsaken place out of reach of the call network. So after 15 minutes, we could finally get through him and got a proper address out of him. It was 7:40. And, so it was 8:20 by the time I finally reached my destination (thankfully, mine was the first drop).

The interesting conversations with cabbies

Apart from interesting co-passengers, you get to talk to the cab drivers too. Their was once this driver who ran a small time agency that provided junior artistes in Bollywood movies. But his once thriving business was hit hard by the demonetization, and he opted to be a taxi driver to survive.

Then there was a cabbie who humbly claimed that his track record was so good that Ola gave him maximum rides with women passengers. God bless him!

Then there are ones who are either exalting Modi government or cursing it.

And then, there are times you get some weird ones too! Like one time, there was this young lad who took me on the wrong route. When I pointed out to him, he didn’t reply. Just the day before I had read a disturbing post on someone’s Facebook wall about how a driver had misbehaved with her. I was about to raise an alarm when the taxi stopped and the driver looked back at me. My heart was in my mouth! And then he said apologetically, “Madam, it seems I am lost. Do you by any chance know the correct way!” Oh, and then I let out a sigh of relief!

There was this cabbie who throughout the journey was badmouthing Ola and Uber, and how they were sucking poor cabbies. According to him, all these app-based taxis would shut shop in a few months, as they were doing very badly. This was on the day when the news of Ola raising fresh funds were splashing all over the news.

Well, whatever said and done, I am enjoying these everyday taxi rides and wouldn’t have it any other way! What about you? Do you have some interesting taxi ride stories to share??


TalaashThe much-awaited Aamir Khan movie beckoned us on a Monday night. Rishi, being a huge fan of this ‘perfectionist’ actor, had booked Lounge seats in advance and was looking forward for an exciting evening. But his enjoyment was somewhat marred by someone playing a movie spoiler with him.

The film starts with a car speeding on the empty Worli Seaface in the wee hours of the morning and then suddenly plunging into the sea. It’s revealed later that the driver cum victim was a hugely popular Bollywood actor Armaan Kapoor (Vivaan Bhatena). Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) is entrusted to look into this high profile case. What looks like a simple case gets more and more mysterious with various twists and turns. Surjan Singh in his quest to solve the murder mystery (it’s established early on that it could not have been a suicide) drives across the under belly of Mumbai in the night and comes across a medley of characters, all suspicious in nature. The murder case is interestingly interwoven with Surjan’s personal life. Surjan singh or Suri (as he is fondly called by his wife Roshni) is having a hard time coping with a personal tragedy, his marriage is in shambles; work is all he has that keeps him driving.  His nocturnal meetings with a prostitute Rosie (Kareena Kapoor) keeps him away from his marital bed while his distraught wife, Roshni (Rani Mukherji) suspects him of having an affair. After a lot of unexpected turns, the mystery is revealed which is totally unpredictable and unconventional.

Though Aamir Khan is known to do films of different genres and you always expect them to be different, you are never completely prepared for the surprise factor in his movies. The same is the case with Talaash. Aamir Khan has given a power-packed performance. His emotions as a helpless father, troubled husband and a baffled inspector are very raw and palpable. You sympathize with the character and feel his emotions throughout the journey. Rani Mukherji, sans make up looks as beautiful and convincing. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get much of a scope to showcase her acting prowess. Kareena Kapoor (or should I say Kareena Kapoor Khan? I am not sure about her adopted name, so will stick to the original) is the soul of the movie. With her peppy performance, she infuses a bit of colour, mystery and romance to the otherwise dull and gray canvas. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is brilliant as a slime bag Temur. He has a lot of potential which is clearly visible in all his films. Writer-Director Reema Kagti and Script Associate Zoya Akhtar have done a brilliant job. The music is gripping and mysterious keeping in line with the mood of the film. The cinematography is wonderful, especially the montages of Mumbai after dark.

Verdict: Though the pace might be a little disappointing, this contemporary crime thriller is a good watch.