At the end of my work day planning my trip home starts with a phone call to the watchmen that goes something like this….
Me: Can you call me a taxi to Bandra?
Watchman: Ok Ms.
(A phone call 10-15 minutes later)
Watchman: Ms. Taxi.
Then I pack up head downstairs and hop in the taxi to go home.Today however it was a bit different….grrr!!
Me: It’s ….. Can I get a taxi to Bandra.
Watchman: Taxi?….(In retrospect, I think the problem started right here. LOL)
Me: Yes. It’s…from 6th floor. Can I get a taxi to Bandra, ___road.
Watchman: Taxi. Yes, Ms.
I don’t wait for the return phone call to go downstairs today because I have to run to the bank machine directly across the street before the taxi comes.
When I get downstairs to the gates I can see that one of the watchmen is attempting to hail a taxi. I tell him I’m just going to the ATM and that I’ll be back. I run in and out of the ATM in a few minutes, to see no taxi and the watchman is not on the road side hailing me a cab. Not really a problem at this point as it usually takes 10-15 minutes to get one and it’s been about 10 minutes at this point. So I begin the task.
Driving is mad in Mumbai and rush hour is exhausting most times! What is interesting to note is I am coming to realize that the direction from which you hail a cab should be an important consideration when you want to get home in a timely fashion… or at any other time for that matter. If you’re going west… it’s best to hail a cab going in that direction. The watchman was originally hailing a cab going in the correct direction.
So I assumed his post- on the correct side of the road and began my attempt.
There are TONS of taxi’s in Mumbai. A conversation with a colleague a few weeks ago enlightened me to the fact that there are not enough taxis in the city. At this I was shocked, as it seems like there are WAY more taxis on the road than cars. In fact, I would argue that there are more taxis than cars.
But all taxis do not go to all destinations…. this is one of the interesting things about the taxi system. Drivers have their zones, daily routes… whatever you want to call it. But they have something … as some won’t pick up fares that takes them to a locality that can be even 10-15 minutes away. It’s weird.
Anyway, back to my story…
The watchmen saw me, shortly after my attempt began and came to my aid. So there we were, two of us, attempting to hail a taxi. Two minutes into our attempt, I decided I would go on the other side of the street- who cares about direction being an important consideration at this point, I have an appt at my flat for 7pm so the drive home mattered today. It was at this juncture that I realized that direction really does matter lol… as while I don’t know Hindi I could tell from the response of the ONLY driver that paused for me….
and yes… when hailing a cab… MOST drivers literally only pause to hear you say loudly your locality…(more on the ‘locality’ thing another time) and THEN stop if they will take you. If not, they usually shake their head ‘no’ or mutter something AS they are driving off. I have to laugh, cause it’s absolute madness! lol
…. so directionality matters as it appeared the only cabbie that paused for me was saying something like “Bandra is not in this direction. Can’t you see I’m not driving in that direction”.
His response however, did not deter me from staying on that side of the road (“pllllbbbbb”- that means I’m sticking out my tongue… at the driver… in my head of course).
30 MINUTES and at least 50 TAXI’S later… and I am not stretching the truth by one bit! I got a taxi!
Actually “I” didn’t get the taxi, nor did the watchman get me the taxi. Some good natured Indian dude must have seen our pathetic plight lol… as he was driving by and drove up the road and caught me a cab. He drove back to tell me he got me a cab and waited for the cabby to come.
FYI… less than 10 of those 50 taxis were empty… my estimate is maybe only 7. So yes, Mumbai needs more taxis!