One night I was at a photography exhibition on Bombay. The artist spoke on a panel with Shyam Benegal and Shilpa Phadke who made a wonderful presentation on gender and space and Bombay. There were questions from the audience and a man introduced himself as President of City Taxi Union and spoke about how taxi drivers know every nook, cranny, lane, market, neighborhood and visual in the city. And if people want to take photos or movie makers to shoot movies in Bombay, the taxi drivers are really the best location scouts. He’s right. Strangely, on the way down to the venue, I had seen a taxi with City Taxi Union written across the back windscreen and I had written down the name and number. This is Mushtaq Qureshi, President and founder, City Taxi Union, and this is what he has to say about the changes to the taxi line and the problems and future of the kaali-peeli drivers. Click on player below to stream the podcast. Right click on link to download. (19 min 10 sec)
Since there is so much discussion about the private fleet taxis, here is a photo of a Meru taxi in line at the CNG petrol pump at Tardeo.
This ‘modernisation’ project that is engulfing our city has ramifications that ripple into the daily details of our life and work. Since the domestic airport is now in private hands, the land use needs to be commercialised in order to create revenue and profits. This outtake describes one effect on the taxis and one on people who drive cars. (1 min 53 sec)
Mushtaq thinks our Bombay taxi drivers are the best in the world given………… (13 sec)
Some management types might call this the City Taxi Union Mission Statement (44 sec)
Since Mushtaq doesn’t have a taxi to photograph, I am putting a little thumbnail gallery. Click to see the words on the backs of the taxis, like passing reminders or signs, one word poems.
There is no Hindi transcript and no Hindi blog entry for this. Sadly, I seem to have lost VS Rawat. Both were his ideas and his work. He has brought so much to Meter Down. I am still very grateful to him and intend to carry on his ideas. Hopefully by the next posting, Hindi will be back. Kindly bear with me til then. Ma’af karna.
The intro music in the podcast is the song Boombai Nagari from the movie Taxi 9211, sung by Bappa Lahiri, Merriene , Nisha and Vishal Dadlani.
Music by Vishal Dadlani and Shekar, lyrics by Vishal Dadlani and Dev Kohli.