I was running late. And I had to cab the shortest fare distance to make it on time! And I knew I didn’t have smaller notes.
All three combined in Calcutta? You know it’s not a good start to the day!
Frantically searching for a cab, I saw a lot of occupied cabs going my way! First empty cab I saw was taken by another female.
I was already past my time.
Another cab rounded the corner and the available cab driver eagerly awaited my destination. On informing him about it, he immediately agreed. Afraid, he wouldn’t have change, I asked him before sitting in the cab if he would be able to encash my 100 rupee note against the smaller fare which was likely to be due. He agreed again!
A cabbie on the streets of Calcutta smiling and answering my questions? And all answers in my favour? I was dumbstruck! He must have sensed my excitement. I sat in the cab. He started driving away.
Cabbie (jovially!) : You’ll have to pay me double.
Me (laughing) : What for?
Cabbie : I am taking you across for such a short distance. I am also going to give you the change you need. A mere 25 bucks extra won’t pinch much!
Me : Actually you should be charging less considering I am taking you very near to one of the most religious places in the city! Wouldn’t you want to take the blessings of the Lord and also pick up some passengers? Double benefit!
Cabbie : If that be the case, then I won’t charge a penny from you.
Me (shocked at his polite and humorous demeanor!) : I won’t get down from the cab until you won’t take what is due to you.
Cabbie (still driving and I noticed from the shortest route available!) : How will 25 bucks extra matter to you? These days at every celebration, parents double the price of the kid’s phone. I am just asking for double cab fare.
Me : My parents aren’t like that. They need all details of every spending I make. (Though I don’t remember when either parent did that, but then I had to defend my parents somehow. Simply, because they are not like that.)
Cabbie : Tell your father tonight you met an old uncle who agreed to drive you around and you paid him extra.
As I approached my destination, he asked me particularly where I wanted to be dropped off because he didn’t want me to walk even a bit in the Sun, which as I now recall, was very harsh!
After a bit of friendly haggling, and ten bucks extra later, I made my way with his good luck and my smile!
Yes, I paid him more than his fare, but I don’t regret it! I think his people skills deserve that at the least!
P.S. : The whole conversation happened in Hindi and a little Bengali here and there! To make things simpler, English has been used as the medium of expression.