July 5, 2000
"Chaachaa… bas Eros ke wahan par rok dijiye," a confused girl just fresh out of school tells the elderly taxi driver.
Giving one glance to the metre, in a tired voice he says, "Madam pandhrah rupaiah ho gaye hai."
Checking a classic Titan wrist watch in style, I realised I’m 10 mins late for my first ever lecture in college. With haste, I put my hand in the front pocket my hangbag, fetch a Rs 50 note and hand it over to the cabbie.
"Madam pacchas ka chutta nahi hai humare paas," he snapped back, annoyed with the amount of his ‘bhaada’ time I have already eaten.
Wondering what to do next, an already hasstled me said, "Lekin chaacha humare paas chutta nahi hai. Aapke paas hona chahiye na. Dopahar ka time hai."
With a stinging glare the old cab driver mumbbled few words under his nose, fetched his purse from the dashboard and handed over Rs 30 saying, "Paanch rupaiah nahi hai."
He turned his head and started his 1980s cab, and pressed the accelerator with an indication that its high time that I get the hell out of his prestigious vehicle.
February 18, 2010
"Boss, bas woh Kamala Mills ke gate ke saamne rok do," I ordered a young taxi driver, who at 8 in the morning, seemed much overworked after a ‘night duty’.
Pulling over his decked up cab, the boy says, "Madam, Rs 40 ho gaya hai."
I checked my wallet, only to find a bunch of Rs 100 notes. Before I could hand over one of the fresh Rs 100 note, the young cabbie uninterestingly said, "Madam boni ka time hai, chutta do."
Irked with his attitude, I continued digging my purse and checked every place where I could have hidden some money. To my relief I found a sole Rs 50 note staring at me with suffocation. Guess that note waited for its turn for a really long time.
"Dus rupaiah toh rahenge aapke paas, ya woh bhi nahi hai?" I snapped handing over the relieved note and annoyed with the delay he had already caused.
He handed over a torn Rs 10 note, I stepped out of the cab and just banged the door. That felt so good.
Ten years on and still nothing has changed in the ‘Chaacha and Chutta’ saga. How many of us struggle with this scenario in a city like Mumbai, where everyone somehow loves the feeling of owning crisp Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes. To make things worse, we also have the Rs 1000 note also.
Facing the challenge of travelling without much change in your wallet is something every Mumbaikar goes through — be it in a taxi, a rickshaw or our very own BEST bus. What’s worse, even the dosa waalas the pani puri waalas and our favourite gola waalas seem to be following their route.
But yet, even though we complain of their fussy behaviour, we cannot do much without them. Atleast I love the fact that I have to ignore the disasterous Kurla station and have the luxury of taking a cab from a nearby station without switching train routes.
I, however, cannot deny that the same fussy taxi drivers, and rickshawaalas at times come to our rescue when we need them the most, especially when rain gods decide to shower their love in this city. The madam then becomes the ‘sister’ and the boss then becomes the ‘bhaiya’. The feeling is mutual in times of disaster.
Whether we like it or not, somewhere these not-so-important ‘Chaachaa’s and Bhaiyaa’s’ become silent supporters to our otherwise horrid lives (atleast to my life).
"If there is love and passion, it is in Mumbai,
If there are dreams and thoughts, it is in Mumbai,
If there is fun and frolic, it is in Mumbai,
If there are stars and fortune, it is in Mumbai.
For Mumbai, makes us shine,
For Mumbai, makes us live,
For Mumbai, lets you meet them all!!"