Nalini Sharma

‘Cab Ride Drove Me To Nervous Breakdown’

U2 on the last stretch, one that I deemed safe. Just near the Delhi-Gurgaon border, my cab screeched to a halt in front of a dingy little building. Before I could say a word, the cabbie coarsely told me: “Madamji tax katwana haiBorder aa gaya (I have to pay the border tax).” It was 1.30 am. As I protested, he shut the door on me and walked away into the dark. I was in this dead cab, alone. All I could see outside was other cabs parked in disarray, drivers of sizes and sorts, smoking, chatting and staring at me like circling vultures. The road that was so familiar in the day appeared to be ghoulish place. All the streetlights were on the divider; I was in semi-shadow. The minutes passed and there was no sign of my cabbie. Fear took hold of me, but I shook it off and used the one device at my disposal: my phone. The first thing I did was call home and tell my husband about my predicament. I knew he would reach me in 20 minutes, but that was still far too long. In near panic by then, I dialled 100. I locked my cab from inside and got back on the phone with my husband. Another few long minutes passed before the cabbie returned with a business-as-usual air about him. A police van had reached the spot by then. A lengthy conversation ensued between them, the cabbie and me. My husband arrived in the meantime. I reached home at 2.30 am, shivering from the cold and the fright I had got. I am a journalist. But the experience of using cabs in the late hours has made me an ex-journalist till I can make my own travel arrangements. It’s just not safe otherwise, and even if it is, it never looks like that. (Identities of the writer and her workplace have been withheld on request by LokMarg)]]>