Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day 9 - The Estranged Taxi Driver

One thing I really miss in this city is a Metro. Not that finding a taxi here is difficult or anything, but sometimes you are forced to ride with drivers who are garrulous and tend to ask you a zillion questions about your nationality, your place of stay, etc.

Thankfully the rules here are pretty strict that they wouldn’t think of pulling any stunt (touchwood!) or they would face the music BIG time. Not just one or two, it’s their only 4367 questions that you have to put up with. Not all are this way, but some can drive you nuts. (The intention is not to generalize.)

I remember this one particular taxi that I got into in front a popular supermarket.  The driver appeared silent at first. As luck would have it, I was on phone with my dad and he immediately realized that we shared a common mother tongue. And the questions began as soon as I hung up. He started by asking me where I am from, what I do, my family members etc. I answered the first two questions very curtly but I pretended like I am busy after that and ignored him completely, hoping he would get the message.

Somehow he didn’t seem to care, he only wanted to talk. I didn’t budge and pretended to be on the phone. But that didn’t have any effect. It was as if he just wanted a human being to be there to listen. He started with his childhood in Kerala and went on to talk about his family members, their lives and what not. I lied that I had other appointments and asked him to drive faster.

Suddenly out of nowhere he started talking about wars and began raving about some political parties that he supported during his college years. Then he started taking names of global leaders and abusing them. Before I could ask him to shut up, he turned around and asked me if I knew to make bombs!!

He said that he knew and he has taught many in his hometown how to make them. Warfare ran in his blood he claimed. He referred to a few global tragedies and said those folks who were bombed deserved it. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had to get out. I asked him to stop immediately, handed him the fare and got out.

He didn’t seem affected at all. Not one iota of regret or surprise or shock. Nothing! With absolute nonchalance, he took the fare and wished me a pleasant day!

I walked away as fast as I could.

These days I make it a point to carry the most valuable weapon of self-defence while traveling alone –  ear phones.

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