I was dropping off my parents in the Mumbai airport (T1 domestic) at 5:00am, as they had a flight to catch at 6.30am from Mumbai to Guwahati. After I dropped them, I had to take a cab to go to my college (TISS, Mumbai). I thought of booking an ola/uber but then thought of taking a kali-peeli instead and started to walk towards the vehicle stand. I asked a few securities around, and they said that I needed to go to the main road to take a cab or else I needed to Pre-book it from the airport itself. However, I still continued to walk ahead, in the hope of getting an auto at the least.
Just then a middle-aged man came up to me and asked mam taxi? I was surprised but I was also happy that I got one inside the airport and I asked him some questions to which he politely replied. I told him ” dada meter se jayenge na”? (will you go by the meter) he replied yes and then he told me not to worry as he does not believe in cheating his passengers because God does not forgive such people, and told me to follow him. I walked with him for like 5 minutes and asked him why was his taxi parked so far, and he gave me some explanation regarding airport policies and even though I had my ‘eyebrows raised’ for quite some time, I did not want to think much at 5.20am, with my eyes heavy with sleep. Once I got inside his taxi, I once again repeated “dada meter se jayenge na?” (dada will you go by meter only) and he replied “are haan madam, aap chinta bohut karti hain” (oh yes madam, you worry too much). As he started the car, he started speaking too much, way too much about everything under the sun and looking visibly uncomfortable for some strange reason.
I started to panic by his strange behaviour but told myself to keep calm and thought to myself that it’s my over anxious self, overthinking as usual. He asked me where I was from, where were my parents, what was I doing in Mumbai and after every line he would tell me, ‘ma’am aap chain se so jayee, main apko jaga dunga jab aapka ghar aa jayega (mam you sleep peacefully and I will wake you up when we reach your place). Every time I would hear that, I would be more alert than ever and I knew something fishy was on, but I just told myself to calm down. He would look at me and look at the meter, this happened for a good 20 minutes. As we reached Sion the meter showed ‘750 RUPEES’. I was utterly shocked, surprised and literally, couldn’t believe my eyes and I started asking him about the reason for the grossly high price and he replied: “mam itna hi hota hai, shayad apko nahi pata” (ma’am it’s this much, probably you don’t know) with a smirk. At that moment I knew I had been fooled, but I just could not get down from the cab because I could not see any other taxi or auto at 6:00 am near Sion and it was still dark which literally freaked me out. I was getting so angry at myself at that time and I could see a dirty smirk on his face which irritated/scared me more. I kept telling myself that this was the last time I was taking a kali-peeli from the airport and had already planned to ask 1000 questions (and further action probably) as we entered TISS campus in the presence of the security guards.
After we went a little ahead he suddenly stopped his cab and said I don’t have petrol, please give me my money and get down. I was furious by that time because he had the audacity to cheat me and then show that disgusting attitude at the same time. I said “dada main yahan se kaise jaoongi” (dada how will I go from here), to which he replied, “mujhe nahi pata mujhe mera paisa doo aur niklo” (I don’t know how just give me my money and get down). The same person who pretended to be so sweet just a few minutes ago asking about my family and smiling is literally acting like a different human being altogether. All the horrific incidents that I had previously heard and read popped up in my head and I was so scared. Then he himself within 5 seconds said, “theek hai main apko thoda aage le jata hoon (okay I will take you a bit ahead) and before I could understand what was happening, the car started moving and he went ahead and stopped within 5 minutes and said “bas ho gaya” (okay its done). I had already given him the money by that time (5 minutes back) when he stopped the car the first time. I had given him a 1000 bucks (with all the anger and frustration) and the fare showed 800. So I asked him to give me 200 rupees back. He screamed at me so badly and said “main khali gari airport le jaaonga toh paise kya tumhara baap dega (do you think I will take the empty car back to the airport, who will give me the return money, your dad?). I started fumbling and saying “yeh toh galat hai, aisa nahi karna chahiye” (this is wrong you should not do this). Then he screamed at me and said, “aap de rahe hon ya warna” (are you giving me the money or else). I was so scared I quickly gave him 300 rupees a total of 1100 rupees from ‘Mumbai domestic airport to Sion’. As soon as I gave him the money, he had a weird smile on his face and he told me “madam mein help karoon apka saman utarne main” (mam should I help you to get the luggage down), a weird psychopathic smile on his face with a quick change of tone like the incident 3 minutes back did not happen. I said no, quickly took my luggage and before I could get down properly, he started the car and as soon as I shut the door he zoomed away.
Now when I think back of the incident, I think of the various things I could have done at that time but could not because of my fear. Ten years in Mumbai and this was the first time I faced a horrific incident such as this.
Submitted By – Moitrayee Das
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