Long day at work. Tired. Time for a Taxi. Back to The Cell.
In less than a minute, I had hailed a familiar Classic Ambassador and stuck my head through the open passenger window to conduct the comprehension test. "Ramakrishna?"(I nearly said Alcatraz) He nodded and slapped the meter to the starting charge of Rupees 10 (about €0.14 - oh give me a Dub Taxi driver to berate! What is that a factor or 20?)
The driver was enormous. He sat like a caged animal, hunched over the wheel - unfamiliar with his surroundings, a cruel experiment designed by an uncaring zoo-keeper. His arms were massive. This man obviously felled trees before breakfast. His back was a broad as a sail in full wind. He glanced back at me, feeling my scrutiny. "Oh my God! It's not a man - it's Frankenstein!"
Feeling small and vulnerable I switch my gaze to the streetscape. How can a city be quite so dirty? And smelly. Well, take 15 million people, many below the poverty line, squash them into a small space, without adequate infrastructure, in a tropical part of the world, and you have your answer.
The Taxi stops and Mr Frank turns off the engine (a common strategy, it seems, to save one tenth of a penny. I've often wondered if the clever people in Brainiac or Oxford University or MIT have shown that the extra fuel consumed when you start the engine completely wipes out any saving from having the engine switched off for 43 seconds?)
Beside us, a little Auto (the three wheeled tuk-tuk like suicide machines) sidles up, horn blaring. A policeman in pristine white uniform (how can a policeman be so clean after a day's work?) wades in to settle a dispute between a car driver and another Auto. On our right, an air conditioned Toyota purrs quietly, driver and passenger alike smug in their coolness. I suddenly find a new affinity for Mr Frank - we're hot and sweaty but, dammit, we're in this together.
Mr reverie is interrupted by a sound not unlike the grid of a Formula 1 race - anxious drivers revving, looking for position. And we're off again.
Someone has upped the voltage to Mr Frank. Perhaps he eavesdropped on my Formula 1 thought? Suddenly, every inch has to be won. No quarter given. Left and right. And maybe left again? Every possible move for territory is executed ruthlessly - the sort of manoeuvres that would cause a row with your wife (not that I'd know, mind. . . ). A local bus cuts across us without pausing, a sign on the back commanding "BLOW HORN". Mr Frank obliges - in style.
Minutes pass. The Rock beckons. Keys jangle. I'm back. In the Cell.
I wonder what Mr Frank is doing for dinner?
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