Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taxed By Taxi's

Calling a taxi, easy right? Should be. Let me take you to Montevideo. We would dial 141, a computer voice would repeat your address and ask if you wanted a cab dispatched to that address, if so, press one. It would then tell you what taxi was dispatched and how soon it would arrive, usually within three minutes. By two minutes I could look out the window and see the taxi pull up. Get in the taxi, tell the driver where you want to go and the meter starts.

Taxi service Colombo style. There are many taxi companies in Colombo, all with easy phone numbers as well. It pretty much ends there. We call any of the taxi companies and the dispatchers speak English but they don't understand us and we don't understand them. After repeating our address at least five times they will say that a taxi will arrive in about thirty minutes. This really means fourty-five minutes to an hour. So the taxi arrives, usually not where we wanted them to park but arrived nonetheless. They may or may not have a meter. You tell them where you want to go. They'll say they know where it is, but they don't know how to get there so all along the way they will pull over and ask random people how to get to your destination. All the while adding more kilometers to the meter.

Now don't get me wrong. We have had some rare instances of taxi's showing up on time and friendly drivers that take us where we want to go with no problem. But there are rare instances.

The worst part by all means is just trying to get the dispatcher to understand our address.

1 comment:

Nomad said...

It's really a sign of development, isn't it? All the service oriented things have improved so much in the 20 years I have been in Turkey. The public services have also improved to such an extent that I will be using taxis much less too.

In New York, when I was leaving to come back to Turkey after several months away, I had ordered a taxi the night before. That day a blizzard came and the whole city was closing down slowly. (For New York, that is a special scary feeling) And anyway, the taxi shows up and we drive from Staten Island to JFK, rather expensive but really the only way to get there if you have the amount of luggage I did.
I sat in front and the driver was like some character you read in the last chapter of a beloved novel.
He asked me all kinds of questions about my life and told me all about his and gave me some very real insights into all the events that had recently happened. It was like having a chat with the Dalai Lama or something. It had to be one of the best taxi rides every and worth the price.
Need I add he got a nice tip?