E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I went to the General Post Office at Fort, Bombay.
“Kai Pahiye?” (what do you want) asked the clerk.
“Bhaiyya, I want to send a taxi by road to Patna.”
“Bhaiyya hoga tera baap! Lagta, sala Bihari hain. We don’t book taxis any more. It comes under the roadside operations of MNS. We book only taxi drivers to any place in the North,” said the clerk.
“I don’t understand.”
“Look. Don’t waste my time. We have opened centres all over Mumbai to book taxi drivers with one-way ticket. Minimum we accept is 100 drivers at a time. MNS has opened its centres too. If you are from Shivaji Park, you can round up 100 of these drivers there and book them in the MNS kiosk itself. You don’t have to come to GPO.”
I gave up and went to Bombay Central railway station.
“Bhaiyya, I want to book a taxi by container to Patna.”
The Bihari clerk was impressed on being addressed bhaiyya. Most of the clerks manning ticket counters in India are Biharis. I don’t know whether they are of the dirtier kind.
“Ram ki kasam! Hum single taxi nahin book karthe hain. Minimum 100. Taxi ya taxi drivers. Bade saab ka hukum hain. We have just unloaded 10,000 lathis in ten containers. These have come from Patna for distribution in Azad Maidan grounds this evening. If you are free, come over. Tumko bhi ek lathi milega for self-protection.”
I next went to the airport.
“I want to send a taxi by air to Patna.”
“We don’t accept material for airlifting any more. By the way, where are you working?”
“I was a taxi driver. I am looking for work in the new airport coming up here.”
“In that case you are a candidate for parceling from here to anywhere in North. Udhav has booked all the 747s to send out human parcels in cargo planes. We hope to airlift at least 10 lakh taxi drivers, sorry parcels, to various places in North India.”
“This looks like a major project.”
“Yes, indeed. Either Deshmukh or Pawar saab will inaugurate this.”