Confessions of a tourist taxi driver

“Tell me what you want to see and do, and I will take care of the hows and wheres”

Cabbie Gurmeet Singh doubles up as a free guide to Delhi's landmarks

Cabbie Gurmeet Singh doubles up as a free guide to Delhi’s landmarks

Gurmeet Singh,
Oberoi Taxi Service, Delhi 

Driving a taxi has become a lot more difficult now because of increased traffic. When I started out, it was much better. With so many taxi drivers coming into Delhi from places like Bihar and Punjab, and ready to work for any amount, our salaries have also reduced. As an employee, I draw a salary of Rs 8,000 per month, which isn’t enough to make ends meet. It wasn’t so bad earlier.

Besides, these drivers from other states flout traffic rules, commit crime against women, and take passengers for a ride. They have brought us drivers a bad name and spoilt our image. A true-blue Dilliwalla (I was born and brought up in Delhi’s Nangloi area) will never be so anti-social.
I wish I could work as a chauffeur in a foreign embassy. There, the cars are good, the work is less, and the minimum pay is Rs 15,000. I had applied, but was told, one needs to be 10th pass to qualify for the job.

People give me tips of course, but many don’t. Do I feel bad? Well, as your guest, you always think of the welfare of your passengers. I also run small errands for them like getting snacks, liquor or cigarettes, and at the end of the journey you do expect something. But thankfully, most passengers are generous and when you spend a few days with them travelling long distances, they begin to accept you as a part of the group, offering food and even liquor. Nowadays foreign tourists have become smarter. They pay only 2-3 dollars, while I remember receiving upto $50 tips from them before.

In summers our job is very hard. We enjoy AC comfort only when passengers are in the car. The rest of the time, we are not allowed to use AC – we are accountable to our owners for diesel consumption.
I love talking to my passengers and if they are from out of Delhi, I make sure to point out major landmarks we happen to be passing by. I am also very familiar with the popular touristy routes and places in and around Delhi.

Would you like to be my passenger? All you have to do is to get on my cab and tell me about your interests, what you want to see and do. I will take care of the hows and wheres.

Nishiraj A. Baruah

Former Executive Editor of Air India's in-flight magazine and Harper's Bazaar Bride. Lifestyle journalist, travel writer and blogger who collects knives and plays the drums.

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