Mumbaikars would vouch for the fact that the city's landscape is incomplete without the taxis. More so because it is a known fact that Mumbai cabbies are an institution by themselves. Mumbaikars would be lying if they say they don't prefer the city's new taxis over the battle-weary yellow-and-black Fiat taxis.
Recently, my friend ran into a cabbie of one such Fiat who looked on bemusedly after a bevy of beauties rejected his taxi in favour of an Alto. The rejected cabbie spoke with apparent hurt about the "phoren taxi" craze. He mentioned a man with two children and wife preferred to wait at the Marine Drive promenade at around 1 am on a December night than hail the only two Fiat taxis at the stand. As an hour ticked by, the man ventured into the angry cabbie saying he wanted to go to Bandra and the cabbie flatly refused by citing that he had a prior booking.
To cut the long story short, the cabbie said his passengers, who trooped out at around 2:30 a.m., offered to take the family along to Bandra. At the drop spot, the man held out a note of Rs. 100 as "baksheesh" for the driver, who rejected it. "I told him that I could afford to do charity worth that much," he said.
My friend made sympathetic noises against the ageist society that was edging out spacious Fiat taxis as well as the mannerless hitch-hiker. But then again, who wouldn't be a wee bit happier when given the option of zipping a wee bit faster in a newer machine?