BENGALURU: When app-based cab companies first entered the Indian market, I was a happy soul. On paper - or rather, on the phone - the idea is flawless. You book a cab, it arrives at your location, and drops you off at a predetermined price.
Earlier, a trip to the airport required a call to several cab-services. By the end of the endeavour, one had enough skills to be a broker at the Bombay Stock Exchange!
For someone who suffers from anxiety, public transport is nerve-wracking. The metro system doesn’t work for me - the anxiety of catching a train and missing a train gets too much. Then there’s the news of shaky pillars, and reassurances of it ‘being safe’. One report spoke of the city’s Metro trains moving at 10 km/hr - the average human walks at a speed of 4.8 km/hr!
Buses are no walk in the park either. I am constantly anxious of someone picking my pocket. As the bus gets crowded, I move the wallet from my back pocket to my front pocket. But as it gets even more crowded, the front pocket isn’t safe either. With my wallet, phone, Bluetooth earphones, power bank and backpack - I am a pickpocket’s dream victim!
I have tried commuting on my own too, on a two-wheeler. It is futile to even talk about two-wheelers in India. Legend has it that watching an Indian family on a scooter inspired Ratan Tata to come up with an affordable car in the Nano. Ironically, people ended up preferring two-wheelers to the Nano itself. In India, there are 98 accidents per day among two-wheeler commuters. Which means that those who sleep by the roads are safer than those who ride on the roads! Two-wheelers are so risky that there should be a separate life-insurance category for them.
Which is why the influx of cabs seemed like a blessing from heaven. Unfortunately, I use the ‘share’ option. It might be a cab, but I am still given auto-rickshaw treatment. I will be sitting at the backseat, but if two women get into the cab, I am asked to come to the front seat. Then there is the explanation to the driver about my pick-up point. The app makers have created a blue dot for the drivers to identify my location, and yet, I must explain the exact coordinates, including the latitudinal and longitudinal readings, the planetary positions, and the zodiac sign that shines above my terrace. It makes me wonder if I live in Koramangala or the Bora Bora caves!
I think I was born in the wrong era. I am almost disappointed that the human race has not discovered personal flying yet. We have dominated other species, wiped many off them off the face of planet.
We have altered the topography of the planet, melted glaciers and shaved off entire rainforests. Is the idea of personal aviation honestly too much to ask from humanity?
As I wake up every morning and decide which mode of transport to use, I fantasise about flying to work. But knowing human beings, we will probably screw that up too. I won’t be surprised if there are a few idiots who are flying without a helmet, or texting while flapping their wings. There would be traffic police checking for license and drunken flying!
I think my problem with transportation is an innate disappointment with the human race in general. I do not believe in reincarnation, but if it works, I’d like to be born a dolphin - those guys have it easy! (The author is a writer and comedian).