The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential


Most people expect a bit of solitude when entering a cab and settling in for the ride.  It could be a ride within the city, or a drive from/to the airport. The last thing they want is a garrulous cabbie, and if the ride is completed in silence then well and good.

That’s the ideal scenario. The reality can be quite different.

Ask the cabbie one question, and it can, often, open the floodgates. The longer the drive, the chattier they get.

It can be quite interesting, though, and I occasionally engage them in conversation – more to pass the time in a longish drive than anything else. And, often, as I have discovered, it needs little prompting.

In many ways, cabbies are similar, whichever country you travel to.

There is one category of cab drivers who are BBC, CNN, and all other major news networks rolled into one. They grandly inform you about what’s happening, and this is often garnished with their own expert interpretation and analysis of events. 

There is another that falls into the social reformer category, and their views on the ills of the country and society are described in elaborate detail.

The third spends time talking about family, kids, etc.

And yet another wants to know where you are from and what it is like in the place you live in.

There is also a category of cabbie that keeps chatting, lets you lower your guard, and then fleeces you at the end of the trip – the logic being that you think he is a nice guy and will be straight and honest.

Chatting with a cabbie often gives you a unique insight into the place you are in, things that you will never garner from a travel guide. Useful tips that often come handy. It also presents a different perspective on life, and how others handle events and happenings – can be an eye opener, sometimes.

One aspect that I have observed in many cabbies is their take on family and education. There have been many who have spoken about their kids being in college and the dreams for a future that’s different from sitting behind the wheel of a taxi.

Theirs is a hard life, with many working 14-16 hours a day, seven days a week. They have to reckon with grumpy, unreasonable passengers, crazy traffic, pressures to earn enough to pay their rentals, and deal with traffic violations.

Chatting with their passengers who are willing to listen is one way for them to relieve stress, a social interaction that they otherwise lack. It is a way to kill the boredom that is so much a part of their profession.

Yes, there are occasions when I would prefer that the cabbie keeps his mouth shut. But, more often, than not, it is an interesting diversion, particularly in a new country.



September 20, 2011 - Posted by | About this and that, Human Behavior | , , , , , , , , , ,

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