Hello, any answer?

The New Road donned its old looks that afternoon - crowded and congested. I was at Khichapokhari, after a hot summer day’s shopping. Tired and exhausted, I had to literally drag my feet while walking back to the main road to get a cab back to my office.

The sight of cabs lined up a little ahead circulated in me a sense of relief and I walked briskly - albeit tensely - to get to the other side of the fence. Ignore the honks, get going and just avoid being knocked down by the passing vehicles - I thought to myself.

I paced to the first waiting taxi and asked the driver if he would go to Anamnagar. Not to my surprise, the cab driver said ‘No’. For the city cabs taking passengers to a destination comparable to just as far as a stone’s throw are unwelcome. I approached the next one. The driver said ‘Yes’, a bit to my surprise. Relieved, I opened the cab door and just as I was getting in, the cabbie gave me a little shock. He demanded Rs 200. As any hapless commuter in my situation would do, I took his demand with a pinch of salt, played down the ire in me and tried to negotiate. I told the driver I would report him to the police. Go ahead, he challenged. To my utter dismay, the guy in uniform took no interest in my complaint, let alone come to my aid, but showed me that ‘traffic policeman there’. I turned around, only to spot the same cabbie flashing a sarcastic grin on his face.

I wouldn’t give up so easily and was determined to teach him a lesson. If I didn’t, he would take advantage of others, particularly women in more vulnerable situations. I made my way to the traffic cop. He listened to my concerns all ears and sympathized with me, but in the end, to my surprise yet again, he advised me to get another cab. Thank you for your good advice, but can’t take it — I said to myself. I asked the cop to come with me or he would regret later, but was secretly thinking how vulnerable and helpless a tax-paying common citizen is in my motherland.

Well, left to myself, I went back to the third cab. By now the passing

public had sensed some commotion between me, the cops and the taxi

driver. That gave me the confidence

to get bolder and louder. And,

that worked! In the end, I found another cab that would only charge me

Rs 70, nearly three times less

than what I was asked of.