Delhiwale: The taxiwala’s last stand
For years, the local taxi stand owners were the lifeline of Delhi. But, things are changing now. At a time when cab apps are rendering taxi stands obsolete, we meet a stand owner Jagmohan Singh.delhi Updated: Jul 17, 2017 11:02 IST
Let’s talk about a place that could become history any day — a Delhi neighbourhood taxi stand.
Middle-class Delhiwallas of a certain vintage once knew not only the name, family details and political views of their locality’s taxi stand owner, they also remembered his phone number by heart. Today, in the age of cab apps, the city’s 24-hour taxi stands are fast becoming obsolete.
We enter the Sangam Taxi Stand in south Delhi’s Green Park. The owner, Jagmohan Singh, is tying his blue turban inside the stand’s tiny air-conditioned wooden cabin. This is his private space. The five drivers lounge in cars parked outside. Mr Singh’s grandfather, Sardara Singh — a Sikh migrant from Ropar in Punjab — founded the stand in 1984, the year of the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi.
Mr Singh’s cabin is plastered with portraits of Sikh gurus and Hindu gods. There is a bed on one side. An electric fly swatter lies on table. Butterfly stickers cover a cupboard wall. A vase filed with plastic sunflowers stands on a window sill, beside a steel lunchbox (Mr Singh’s meals are sent directly from his home in nearby Arjun Nagar).
Turning the pages of a register on his desk, the stand owner laments the sharp decline in business over the past few years. “I may be forced to start some other work.”
When it happens, this cab stand cabin — so organic, as if it had sprung from the very soil — will disappear, taking with it a slice of the city’s local history.