Since I restarted a full-time job about two years ago, I chose the modern way to transport – ride sharing cab services. Uber and Ola are the most popular ones on the streets of Delhi NCR. Despite the horror stories that float around and the expenses I would incur, by not using the local bus or the venerated Metro, I chose these cabs for their convenience and comfort. Now, some friends say these are your wisdom years and with WhatsApp messages floating around distributing gyaan, this was expected, but I strongly disagree. But, here are the 10 crisp lessons that I have learned while riding the cabs.
1. Anger does one no good
Gyannis have been saying that for ages, but who knew it would be patiently waiting for the taxi drivers to turn up as expected which would teach me the all important lesson of life. Getting angry is not an option when one wants to reach office on time, and after being told multiple times, cabs not available because of increase in demand. The one driver to get through to nonchalantly says “I am drinking tea and will reach you shortly.” I even hold on to your anger when the cab reaches the pick-up point and are finally on your way, only to realize, stuck in traffic…aaarrrggghhh… I am still learning this life’s lesson.
2. Contingency planning is so, very, very, important
While editing work to be published, there is one thing I always do, delete the verys. Here, I am using two. Because this is what it has come down to! From live-life-in-the-moment to planning-for-every- darn-moment. It will take 5-7 minutes to book a cab, it will take another 3-5 minutes for the driver to decide whether he wants to drive towards my destination, 15-20 minutes for the cab to arrive. A whole half-an-hour after the booking is made. Most days, I have learned to manage the routine as per the cab’s time and can manage it successfully. Only to realize that the ‘Cab Gods’ are in a mood to punish, “Why is she sitting and sipping her cup of tea peacefully? Let’s send the cab in 5 minutes.” Why don’t you have a contingency plan to take the tea in a carry away cup?
3. Technology is not perfect
It is not a point I want to debate on because so much of my life is dependent on the permanent presence in our lives, our phones. All work, pleasure, and leisure activities are done with the smart phones. Internet of things gives us the freedom to connect to cab drivers without any intervention from humans. Why, oh why, do all the cabs I book at rush hour, show to be six minutes away when confirmed, but take 25-30 minutes, because the road to my house is choked. Why not a cab on the other side of the society which will take less than 5 minutes. My husband, in his wisdom, decided to explain the concept – it is aerial distance. My reply, “I ordered a car, not a helicopter.”
4. Honking gets one nowhere
Yes, one driver, honked constantly. And, no, I did not count how many times he honked! I am in my wisdom years and not my senile ones! I think I am headed there because I really wanted to. Since I only know the basics of driving, who am I to judge! I am the person who has to put up with the noise pollution. 80% of the way to my office is a straight road, and yes, it is rush hour. Let’s get back to the life’s lessons. Nobody gives an opportunity for a driver to get ahead of them, just because he honked. A small honk gets a bigger honk, a sneer or the jerk of the head. The pattern continues, and the cars move on. But, the honking gives a headache. It makes me realize why braggers are neither liked nor respected!
5. Grumpy people spoil the mood
These people are few and far in between, but riding with them puts one in a bad mood, which is very difficult to come out of. I rode with one chap and the moment I sat in the car, he said something about me being late. I take my contingency planning seriously and am never late. Naturally, I replied and in a few minutes, I began to tune him out, very difficult in a closed space, but I tried. From the traffic to the roads to the people driving in front of him, he grumbled at everything. When I tried to take him through a shortcut, he refused to listen and took a route that cost another 10 minutes. This grumpiness added to the agony and by the time I reached office I was ready for a fight. His attitude affected me so much that I stayed away from my team the whole day. It’s worth remembering, keeping away from the people sucking on the energy which could have been better utilized in some juicy gossip!
6. Talkative people are not always welcome
I love to listen; I really do and am always eager to know the stories of the people driving the cab taking me to my destination. But, there are days, when I need the quiet. Some drivers are non-talkative, but some love to chat, non-stop. A few of them get the hint, when I answer is hmms, but others take it as an impetus to continue. Half way through the traffic, the nuns of my school and my mother win and I have to answer, ‘Acchaa’ or ‘sachhii’. The battle is lost and I wish I could carry a sign that says silence, please. But, in polite society, one never say that and the best way to battle this demon – call a number of a colleague, speak with him/her for a few minutes and then open your phone and become busy. Talkative people are considered the go-getters, but believe me, sometimes, they are so caught in themselves, they do not realize, their jabbering can be a hindrance when one wants to revel in silence and think.
7. Entrepreneurs don’t fit into the mold of high-end sneakers
I have ridden with people who gave up secure jobs to acquire a cab and be their own boss. They would defy every vision we have of sneaker and shorts wearing men walking around earning millions. The poverty of some of these spirited men shines through, and yet, the enthusiasm of working independently, adds a sense of pride to their voice. Another spoke of choosing not to work during the peak hours and be stuck in traffic – I was traveling non-peak hours. One regaled me with how he uses his app to look for alternative routes to reach a destination faster and thus earn more during peak hours. The most interesting ones are of those who now own a fleet (2-5 cars). The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving, and the men who practice it never fail to impress and inspire. When they share the hardships of working with the ride-share cab company, they also relish the freedom to work as they want. Pride in one’s work is obvious and garners respect!
8. Families still rock and rule our hearts
What would we without our families, biological or otherwise? The answer is nothing. Friends, spouses, kids, parents, neighbors, are our families and we would do anything for them. One driver told me of reaching home early in the evening and taking his kids to the park, temple, market, or just sitting and chatting with them. Another spoke about his wife and kids living in their home town, where she worked as a school teacher. He went back every weekend, to spend time with them. One guy spoke about his teenage daughter forbidding him to drive his car at night and setting a deadline for him to be home by 9.00 so that they could all have dinner together. These stories warm the heart and wet the eyes. They also make one realize the love for one’s own family.
9. Gender ratio is 100:0
How can my blog be complete without the use of the ‘F’ word – feminism? I have been riding in these ride-share cabs for a couple years and have yet to meet a female driver. This is one area where ‘male bastion’ still rules. It makes me wonder, why? Not driving at night in the high-risk city like Delhi is understandable, but with the flexi-hours and be one’s own boss, shouldn’t more of the female gender be behind the wheels of a cab. With phones and apps a permanent presence in our lives, women drivers can be safe. She has the controls in her hand and can jam or open windows, and with automatic doors, she can lock the passenger inside and run out. Or even better, why can’t apps match gender to gender, to increase safety all around. There are several glass ceilings yet to be captured, and this is yet to be a mountain where the climb is not yet begun.
10. Husbands are unsympathetic
All those who agree with me, click on like! A good way to increase the likes, I am hoping most wives and some husbands would agree! This one woe, women of all ages, color, and religion carry with them, wherever they go – husbands, by nature, are unsympathetic to our very real, woes. They may be getting awards for problem-solving, but none will be from us. They have vowed to take care of us, but it is a vow, marred by years of seeing each other grow, or becoming old cronies. Marriage is a habit, interspersed by killer looks (one that means looks could kill). In distress, the other half (I consider myself the better of the two) is the person that first comes to your mind. The level of heartlessness is fully-realized when in a state of relief, you write a poem after meeting a small accident and WhatsApp it to him and in reply you get, ‘bach gayee’.