Sunday, March 16, 2008

Meters for show

Tired from a 16-hour bus journey I stumbled to a rickshaw on the Mandovi Bridge.

“Rickshaw Modom?” Like I didn’t know it was one.

“Altinho” I rasped.

“Fiptee rupiss”


“Okay; you from Ponje on’y, so fotty rupiss f’you.”

“Last time I came here I paid 20.”

“Where 20 Modom, you doan know petrol gone up?”

“Why can’t you charge by the meter?” I said.

“No meter.”

“It’s right there next to your head. Last January the government said by last March the use of meters would be compulsory in taxis and autorickshaws. And Madkaikar also announced that you people had agreed,” I said.

“Who you’re voting for Modom?” he replied.

“Don’t try and change the topic. Looks like you people agreed to use the meters and not charge by them,” I said.

“You tink Parrikar will win or that builder fellow Tarcar?” he replied

“What’s the use of installing meters and not charging by them?” I said.

“That Parrikar is a good fellow but he’s RSS fellow, but Tarcar is young fellow, maybe you Kistao, you vote for him?” he replied.

“I have just come from Mumbai. There are so many autorickshaws and taxis and they make very good business with lots of people using them throughout the day. Here you people just sit around without any passengers and overcharge maybe one or two passengers. How will you be successful?”

“Akshully RSS is good becos they say country is first-first, but Tarcar is new face and big builder. He’s Kistao or what Modom?” he said.

“The rickshaws in Mumbai run on CNG so they don’t pollute the atmosphere,” I pointed out.

“In Pernem they say MGP will win. I dunno,” he said.

“Better still, why don’t you go in for those electric cars? The cost is supposed to work out to only 40 paise per kilometer. If two or three people sit in the back it works out very cheap and saves the environment too. You can charge much less and still make a very good profit.”

“It makes me fill to laugh when these people come to our houses to beg for votes. After that we can be dying also, they won’t bother about us,” he said.

“The benefit of cheaper transport is not just for the passengers, more passengers will travel by your vehicles and less private vehicles will be used,” I said.

“All of them are saying Save Goa, Save Goa. What is happening to Goa? Goa is fine! Why save Goa?”

“Fine for you all right…! You just fire off any price that comes to your head and people have to pay you. Soon no one will hire your rickshaws and then let’s see how you manage.”

“Here is your house Modom. 40 rupiss.”

“It would not have cost me more than 12 rupees in Mumbai.”

“Ah but Modom, if we charge by meter there will be more and more rickshaws in Goa and more and more taxis and more and more cars. Goa will become jes’ like Bombaim.. Then really we have to save Goa. Wen you go to vote Modom doan vote like dat on’y. Tink hard and vote for good man. 40 rupiss Modom.”

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