Story Time: Last memory of Mumbai
The alarm startled me. Looking over at my phone it was 2 am. On the premise of saving as much hard-earned cash as possible I had opted for the most unsociable flight out of Mumbai. Feeling for my bags under the dim light of my mobile, I gathered my belongings, gave my friend a brotherly embrace and left the hostel room.
Still fumbling with the crutches, I took uneasy steps down into the twilight Mumbai streets. It was quiet, eerie, still, a stark contrast to day-time Mumbai. The black and yellow markings of taxis lined the streets, back doors open with drivers napping. Waking one up he dozily looked at me as I requested for the International Airport.
“500 rupees, special night rate, 500.” Trying his luck.
Sure it was. I’ve been here a week, I know your game “No way, put it on the meter.”
“No meter, its night time.” Is he trying to haggle here?
Time to bring out the big guns “Don’t worry I’ll get another taxi.”
I hobbled 3 metres before he waved me back and agreed to put it on. Yes!
Through the journey I casually peered over at the meter. The meter was increasing slightly faster than usual, but this might have been my paranoia. Checking outside there also seemed to be a lot of other taxis overtaking us…
This guys trying to get the meter as high as possible! Cheeky bugger!
Other than calling him out and being left on the roads of Mumbai at 2am, I had to roll with it, but there was an internal battle in my head against this meter not to reach 500 rupees.
340, 350, 360, 370…
The airport was on the horizon with around 1000m to go and he was still taking a snail’s pace.
370, 380, 390, 400… COME ON PULL UP ALREADY
It finally pulled over at 410. Sweet, so he WAS trying to rip me off earlier. I handed over a 500 and the taxi driver with an unabashed smile handed back a 20.
He really is shameless. In any other situation, if they were deserving I’d tip, but not when you expect it and withhold my cash from me.
“Can I have the rest of the change?”
“No tip?” still smiling and staring.
“No, no tip.”
Limping towards the airport entrance clutching my 90 Rupee notes, I looked back. Another customer was haggling through the taxi window. Good luck man.
My last experience in Mumbai did not leave the greatest impression of the city and I know that 90 rupees is equal to 90p, however when there are honest drivers who put the meter on without asking and don’t purposefully withhold money it seems unfair to reward this type of behaviour. It’s a shame that it happened on my way out of the city but Mumbai, you still gave me an incredible week.
Have you had any bad experiences from taxi drivers? Was there anything worse than this? Would this type of experience affect your impression of a place you were visiting. As always I would love to hear your thoughts!
“It is one of the benchmarks of a culture I always think – the page at which it operates. A good way to measure it is to order a taxi and see how irate local people get if it is late.”
― Sara Sheridan