Lower Parel station
My first day at work. I get out of the station and come on the street. Waiting to get a lift from a cabbie. Anyone who lives in Bombay knows that here auto and cab drivers only give you lifts. Paid lifts, but lifts nevertheless. They start out for a particular destination, and they’ll take you along only if it’s convenient and in the way.
After five ‘nahi jayegas’ I get one cabbie to agree. I open the door and four people appear out of thin air, get in and drive away. Moral: There should be no time lapse between opening a cab door and getting in.
Having learnt my lesson, I’m ready for the next cab. After a manoeuvre that would’ve done Rajnikant proud, I manage to get into a cab at last. But before I can get the door shut, three girls jump into it. I look at them bewildered. The cabbie drives on as if nothing has happened.
‘Is this a hijack?’ I think. Meekly I ask one of the girls, ‘Where are you headed?’
‘Exactly where you are,’ she says.
How the hell does she know where I’m going? As if reading my mind she answers, ‘We heard you ask the cabbie.’
Phew, at least it isn’t a hijack. They probably just want a lift and forgot to ask me. The relief that followed had set my benevolence levels rising. They were all welcome to the ride.
I make it to office safely and pay the cabbie. Suddenly, before I know it I hear jingling. My co-passengers vanish leaving me with a handful of coins. That’s when realisation dawned. They’d all paid their share.
Life has been smooth ever since I understood the principle. Every cab here is shared. The separate queue for the share-a-cab thingy is just a formality. Now I’m living happily ever after. In fact, if you see me any morning at Lower Parel station, you’ll realize I’m a pro. As soon as I hear the name of my destination being mentioned anywhere near a cab, I dive straight into it. Sometimes, the person who’s already inside looks at me bewildered.
‘It’s okay’, I say with a reassuring smile.
2 days ago