Drivers are same the world over -- stone-faced and usually with a language barrier. During my visit to Taiwan on a study tour last month, I lost my way in the capital city of Taipei, thanks to such a driver. I had some spare time on the last day of the 10-day tour and ventured out of the hotel in the heart of the city.
While roaming around the streets, I lost my way and thought about taking a cab to reach the hotel. I signalled one to stop. The cab driver, who was of Chinese origin, showed no emotions.
As soon as I sat in the cab, I asked him to take me to Hotel Howard Plaza. He did not know English and said something in Taiwanese before starting off.
I assumed that he had understood my destination as he accelerated on the neat-and-clean wide roads of Taipei. But soon I realised that he was taking time reaching the hotel that was not far as I had just come out on foot. I was to take the official bus for the valedictory function that night, which I could not afford to miss.
I tried to break the ice and asked him why it was taking long. He looked back stone-faced and said something in Taiwanese which went over my head. I kept repeating the name of the hotel and he kept telling me something. I construed that he was asking me to calm down but he was aggressive in his gestures. He had no concern that I had an official assignment.
The only thought that crossed my mind was that all cab drivers the world over were the same. They hardly bothered about the urgency of the situation was my experience with them in Delhi, Chicago and Taipei.
He stopped the vehicle near a swanky building. I was shocked when he asked me to alight.
I refused to get down and he seemed angry. I signalled three youngsters standing nearby for help. I asked them if they understood English; when they replied in the affirmative, I told them my plight.
They told my concerns to the cab driver. They also ensured that I was safely taken to my destination. After 20 minutes of drive, we reached the hotel. By then my bus had left, leaving behind the message that I take a taxi to reach the venue.