This Kolkata Taxi Driver Explains Why They Refuse Passengers, Apparently He Does Have A Point
We posted on how taxi drivers of Kolkata refuse passengers and frankly speaking it does piss us off.
But this taxi driver explains why they refuse passengers and apparently he does have a point.
A conversation between Chintoo and Mathura Prasad Jee.
“Chacha, Howrah jaoge?” , I asked him. I was irritated from the previous five refusals. Thankfully he agreed. I sat and he started the meter. “Chacha meter se zyada to nahi loge?” I asked as I still couldn’t believe that a taxi wala had agreed and didn’t even ask for extra!
“Nahi, babu, meter se hi chaliyega, agar aapko mann ho to thoda zyada de dena”
I didn’t reply at that moment, and sank back in the seat. There was something about this guy that made me want to talk to him. I started awkwardly:
Me: “Uncle, are you from Bengal?”
He: “No, babu. I’m from Jharkhand”.
Me: “Oh,okay, how long have you been here for ?”
He: “It has almost been 50 years. I don’t even remember when I first came to this city”
Me: “50 years is a long time, Have you been driving this taxi all this while?”
He: “I started with a factory. worked there for 17 years, then the factory shut down all of a sudden. With nowhere to go, I started driving Taxis. since then I have been a taxiwallah.”
Me: “It’s been long.”
I didn’t ask anything for a while, and just observed him, meandering through the traffic with ease, later I packed up some courage and decided to question him on the rampant taxi refusals.
Me: “Uncle, I was refused by five taxis before you agreed. They were all young guys. Don’t they want to earn money? Don’t they understand the need of the passengers?”
He: “Babu, they understand everything, but the passengers, the government, the media don’t understand them. we taxiwallahs are poor people. Now if someone asks me late at night to go to a place very far from my house, shouldn’t I refuse? They ask me to go to Dhulagarh at 11 PM while my house is in Khidirpur, why should I agree? I won’t get any passenger while coming back, and I’d have to pay the price of the diesel from my own pocket along with the daily fare of the taxi. I hardly make 300- 400 bucks everyday after paying all these expenses to the owner. If I agree to go wherever the passenger wants to go this late in the night, how would I run my house?”
He had a point, no one ever listens to their part of the story. All we care about is our time. we read a few news articles and curse them.
Me: “But uncle, the refusals are rampant during peak hours too!”
He: “I don’t do that. There are some taxiwallahs, who think they’ll only look for fares who’ll pay more, or go to routes where there is more chance of getting a passenger, but I don’t think they are doing anything wrong. Instead of going to a direction where I won’t get any money while coming back, it’s better to not go there. I was once asked by a guy to go to this place, which is around 20 Kilometers from here. I got around 270 bucks from him as per the meter, but while,coming back I didn’t get any passenger, I had to pay 250 bucks for the fuel spent on those 40kms. Now after three – four hours of hard work, if you make only 20 bucks of profit, isn’t it better to say no? ”
I kept quiet for a while, I felt he had a strong point, we should not always listen to what the media says, and these guys do things for a reason. It’s not that they don’t want to earn- the refusals are because they don’t want to starve even after hours of hard work.
Me: “Chacha, Why don’t you buy your own taxi? How long will you rent a cab?” I asked this question to divert the topic. Anything more about the refusals would’ve been harsh on him
He: “I owned two taxis once, and was financially very stable, but 5 years back, I had to sell both of them to marry off my daughter. I wanted to give her a grand wedding. I spent around 8 lakh rupees on her wedding. Everyone was very happy.”
I saw his eyes go wide open with pride.
Me :”Was she your only daughter?”
He: “I have a son and two daughters. Both the daughters are married now, and leading happy lives with their families. My elder daughter has started a school, and the younger one is a teacher in a government school. My son is a Manager in a restaurant”
His face was elated, the shine in his eyes was something I had seen in somebody after a long time.
Me: “Wow! You’ve taught your kids well!”
He: “Yes, all my kids have a Masters Degree”
Me: “Your kids are in such good positions, why do you still drive a taxi?”
He: ” Because I don’t want to be dependent on them, I have never taken a single penny from anybody as a loan. My mother died when I was 15, I had a younger brother and a younger sister, I took care of them. Even they are well off financially, but I never asked for a single penny from them. If you go by my age I should have retired 5 years ago, but this will power to be self dependent drives me and my taxi.”
Me: “Chacha, baat to badi gehri kehdi aapne” (‘Uncle, that was very deep.‘)
Me: “Accha chacha, why do you drive a taxi? You can easily get a private driver’s job. The pay would be more stable, you won’t have to pay for anything from your pocket!”
He: ” I once tried that, but the owners used to ask me to do petty jobs, as if I was their home servant! “sabji le aao, cylinder upar chadha ho, kapde iron kara lao”(“Go get the grocery, take the Cylinder upstairs, get the clothes Ironed”). I didn’t like that, so I quit and came back to taxi business. Ab umar bhi nahi rahi cylinder uthane ki (“I’ve passed the age of lifting cylinders”)”
I laughed with him.
He: “Babu, purane gate pe utroge ke naye pe?” (Sir, where do I drop you? The old entrance or the new one ? )
Me: “Chacha, yahi utar do, accha ek photo le lu aapki? Likhunga aapke baare me, bade mast ho aap, aur naam bhi bata dijiye zara aapka. ”
(Uncle,drop me here, Can I take a photo of you? I’d write about you, you’re amazing!)
He: “Mathura Prasad hai ji naam.
Then I reached my destination and had to hurry up into the station. I hope I meet him again someday. This was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had. I regret not taking his number. I hope he remembers me the next time I meet him so that I can get a great photo of him.
Source – chintchaiwala.blogspot.in
cover image source – youthkiawaaz
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