As we rode with 13 passengers aboard a shared tourist taxi, the flashing headlights of an oncoming cab prompted the 'downloading' of half a dozen inmates of our cab who started walking ahead briskly. The mystery surrounding this abrupt desertion of the clientele was unravelled when, a kilometer later, a poker-faced cop poked his head into our cab and took a census of its human cargo. The cop's head receded, once the head's owner found that our cab was not ‘overpopulated’ and we were let off. The return of ‘walkmen’ a short distance down the road, rang down the curtain on “Operation ‘Con’stable.”
The driver of the taxicab who conducted this 'packed tour' could aptly be called the loadstar of his tribe. For, he loaded the back seat with eight passengers, both weighty(like me) and skinny ones, in the ratio of 3:5. Then he ‘uploaded’ five more into the front seat. One of the ‘forwards’, a midget, sat on the driver’s lap as he (the driver) drove the cab peering over the midget’s head.
A casual observer, taking a peek into the cab would have mistaken me for a hapless raider who got pinned down by a heap of bodies in a kabaddi match. Or, for a pickpocket nabbed by a vigilante squad being taken to the police station after a sound thrashing. But I was beginning see me as a stick of sugar cane passing through a crusher. Even the sardines would have had a hearty laugh at our ‘packed House.’
But the taxi ordeal didn't dampen the spirits of the cab mob who - most of them regulars - chatted gaily and pulled each other’s leg (figuratively, of course). Mr. Squarejaw joked that the clean-shaven men who tried to catch a bus, grew long beards waiting for one. “I once waited for the bus to go to my nephew's wedding,” chipped in Mr. Moonface. “And, I reached so late that the cradling ceremony of his child was in progress!” Yet, amidst the ongoing revelry, I kept a staunch silence. For, in a cab that was chock-a-block with twisted bodies, my lips nearly touched my neighbour's ear.
Instead of peace reigning supreme at the end of an hour-long journey, there was bedlam. For, just as we were about to alight, a cop confronted us. This time it was a gigantic cop with a handlebar moustache and bloodshot eyes. He looked like a hybrid between a gorilla and an elephant : a Goriphant. Apparently, he was lying in ambush after a tip-off from the poker-faced cop who accosted us earlier. As he glared at the battalion inside the cab, his bloodshot eyes grew ‘bloodshoter’.
At the time of going to press, the ‘Goriphant’ was throwing the book - nay, the library - at the cab driver. Or was he hammering out an ‘out-of-court settlement?’ I couldn’t say.