Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Mera Karan Arjun Aayega

Once upon a time there was a company called Bajaj. It used to make something called scooters. The entire Hum Log segment of India used to dream of getting one and would pray for years to be allotted one. There was another company called H M. It used to make a car called the Ambassador. The Polo Playing set of India would queue up for decades to get one of these.

Meru and Mega A C cabs were a boon to those frazzled by the stinking, dusty smelly black and yellow cabs of Mumbai. Folks who were willing to pay a bit more for a better ride. Good cabs which you only got to experience as a tourist in the Far East. Without the ridiculous fees charged by the scamsters who run Blue Cool Cabs.

Tons of folks jumped into these cabs and soon the demand exceeded the supply. That's when the problems started. Call centres which wouldn't give bookings for short distances. Huge waits to get through to the call centres. Cabs which never turned up despite committed times and driver numbers. Drivers calling up saying their cars had mysteriously stalled. Worse still sitting and wondering what happened as there would be no news of your car. Complaint after complaint which cut no ice. These guys had a winning product after all.

This morning was typical. K booked her cab for this morning yesterday morning, twenty four hours in advance. I booked mine last evening. Twelve hours in advance.

The time for K's cab came in the morning. But not the cab. She called up the call centre and was shunted from one apologising exec to another without the promise of a cab. The pitch of her voice got higher and I began to fear for her sanity and mental balance.

I launched into Beethoven's ninth in the shower meanwhile. I had got my driver details after all. while K was told that there were no cars in our area. We live in the same house.

After being reduced to imitating Mamata Banerjee after twenty minutes of banging her head on the phone, K got a car. Which is when my allotted driver called up to say that his car was 'stalled'. I called up again. Was promised a cab in ten minutes.

I hitched a ride from K twenty minutes later and then got into an auto rickshaw and bounced all the way to Andheri.

Post Script: I booked a Meru again to return from work. It has actually turned up. As, someday, will the Hero Honda Splendor and Maruti 800 of AC cabs.

Till then keep a blood pressure pill handy when you book a Meru.


Scarlett said...

There are two cab services in Kolkata - Kolkata cabs & Mega cabs. The latter is the better of the two..atleast they show up on time! Kolkata Cab drivers will come as late as they want to & lie to you regarding their exact location when you call them. They did it to me once - the guy was already more than 15 mins late. He kept telling me he was 2 mins from my pick-up point. I kept calling every 10 mins & later he told me that he has another passenger who he needs to drop to the other end of the city & only then can he come back to pick me up!! Calls to the call center didn't throw up anything except apologies. Finally, when the cab didn't show up for 1 hour after the scheduled time, I left. And haven't taken Kolkata Cabs since.

Sneo said...

atleast mumbai has the good old taxis that charge minimal and take 4 people across the city without much nakra. think of Bangalore where there are only autos and despite being more expensive than taxis, they start asking 20 rupees more than the meter fare. and add to this, the rigged meters., any other ciy will feel better than bangalore for public transaport

The knife said...

Scarlett, Sneo...there is Mumbai and then the rest of India. comments like yours remind me of that.

The first thing that I marvelled at when I landed here from Calcutta was at the cooperative nature of the cabs and autos here.

It has slipped over the last decade though and refusals are quite common noe