Thursday, 16 November 2006

Taxi Tale

The gatekeeper had a pleasant smile, but it was definitely made up. No one likes being woken up at four in the morning, why should the gatekeeper be any different? Nevertheless, he had done his job satisfactorily after being woken up, he'd called for a taxi well before dawn for the two guests of the family in Apartment 14-A. Now the taxi was here, and the two guests were getting in now - luggage in the trunk, trunk snap shut, people in the car, doors shut, and the taxi was off.

M & Chi had reached Mumbai the previous night from Hyderabad, shortly after midnight. M's uncle had an apartment in Worli, where they caught up on a few hours' rest. And they were to catch a flight at this ungodly hour to Indore. In Chi's opinion, it was a crime to expect someone to wake up before 10:00 on any given day. And this was a weekend. To make matters worse, time adds up. If a flight is supposed to leave at five-forty, which by itself is bad enough, they expect you to check in at least half an hour earlier. Add travel time to the airport, and the time it takes to get ready, and then the additional buffer time in case something goes wrong. All of that meant waking up at four in the morning. But there wasn't anyone he could complain to; after all, it was he who'd booked the flight tickets. Now in the taxi, Chi thought he could catch a few winks, but one knows how sleep is. It doesn't come by when one needs it the most.

Neither Chi, nor M was familiar with Mumbai. M had close relatives there, but had never lived with them. Chi had lived there ages ago, but he was too young to remember it. Yeah, there was something that Chi noticed - Mumbai's roads were better than Hyderabad's. Maybe it was because of the early hour, but they seemed a lot wider than any road that Chi had seen. Another few hours, and these roads would be bustling with the life that Mumbai is known for. He imagined how the roads in Indore would be like - probably narrow and very pot-holed. He'd find out soon enough. They'd be in Indore by 6:30 or 6:45, around two hours from now. Hmmm.. almost 15 minutes had gone by sitting in the taxi. The airport was a good half an hour from the apartment, so they were almost half way through.

It was a too early in the day for any coherent thought. Maybe the upcoming competition at Indore had filled M's mind, Chi kept checking and re-checking their flight tickets. It was an Indian flight, he wondered if Indian's breakfast is any good. Strange name, Indian. You've known the airline as Indian Airlines all your life, and one fine day, someone just renames the airline as Indian. He wondered what they got out of the entire renaming the exercise. They keep doing this renaming business at Bangalore, Chi's hometown. Chi often thought when Brigade Road would be renamed.

It was 4:40 now, they should be reaching the airport. Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport. And yes, the taxi was slowing down. But the familiar ramp of two terminals at the airport was not to be seen. Maybe it was right around the corner. There came a small fork in the road, and the driver pulled the taxi to a halt. Surely there was nothing wrong with the taxi, for the engine was still running.

The driver turned around and asked, "Aapko VT ke railway station jaana hai ki Bombay Central?"

Damned gatekeeper!

For the next half hour, the taxi flew faster than any aircraft that I'd been in. We managed to reach the airport at a quarter past five, and yes, we were in time for check-in.

At Indore, I exited on the first day of the Ashwamedha, but M made it to the second round. SS, from IIMI won the competition. More on that in a future post.


educatedunemployed said...

Sweet revenge at waking the gatekeeper up so early mate..sweet revenge...
Ha ha ha ha!

chiranth said...

To be honest, it was more of our fault than the gatekeepers. We really should've checked where the taxi was taking us.

liquid lume said...

Unbelievable. You actually made that flight! From someone who's missed many Mumbai flights already.. :-)

chiranth said...

oh, we were lucky! Thank God the flight was at five-forty in the morning and not in the evening. Else the traffic would've left us stranded in Mumbai.

Suresh S said...

quite lucky to have managed to catch the flight! Gud job by Taxi number 9 2 11... hahaaa1