October 31, 2010: It was just another morning.
4.15am: The alarm woke the husband up. He in turn shook me awake. My march for the day began thus. Like any other weekday.
4.25am: Off to kitchen from the washroom, I packed three takeaways.
4.55am: I settled to relish the morning cuppa. And I was assured of a relaxed day ahead.
Am a wee bit superstitious when it comes to having the morning tea. If I rush through and gulp it down standing, I’ll have a hectic and not-so-pleasant day. So even at the cost of not having a proper scrub, I ensure to have a ceremonious tea session.
Whoever said it’s all in the mind!
5.30am: Kissed goodbye to my sleepy child and wished the husband a good day and stepped out.
As on most days, I hail a cab to work…
5.40am: A taxi pulled over in less than a few minutes after I reached the main road.
The back door was locked.
Promptly the passenger side front window rolled down. I told my destination and waited for the driver to unlock the door behind.
“Jam madaam. Aagey come,” said the driver.
Hopped into the front seat of the Toyota Camry and strapped myself closely beside the driver.
“You Indian?” he asked.
“Yes”, I replied as I enjoyed the dawn breaking over Dubai through the open window.
My years of taxi experience has taught me several tricks to keep a nosy cabbie at bay in a not-so-rude manner. I continued looking out, when came the next query with a comment.
“Gerrils going earrly. What bork”.
I ignored him.
I continued looking out.
“You underrstand Enggalis I know.”
A few seconds later, oops! he breaks the car with a jerk.
“What’s wrong with you?” I blurted out.
A roaring laugh and the car stinks of tobacco. Annoyed I looked at him, when he triumphantly announced, “I say you know Enggalis. Speak, time pass.”
As the car picked up speed I turned to the window, when he began banging on the dashboard.
“I like Indian gerrils, I like…,” he sang.
“Stop the car,” I said.
“You afraid,” he roared and clapped. Both his hands off the steering. He looked, indeed, scary. Open-mouthed laughter exposed his stained set of broken teeth between overgrown orange-coloured beard. That was the first time in about 10 minutes that I looked at him. His scalp was shining and had a few strands of hair coloured matching weird orange. His brows were furrowed and a set of bushy eyebrows that almost touched down his deep set murky eyes.
He rolled the window down to spit out before answering me.
“No stop”, he angrily said. His eyes were reddish, too, I noticed. “You call I stop,” he added before accelerating the car and maniacally began changing lanes.
I took the mobile announcing, “I’m calling the police”, even as I slammed myself for not heeding to advices. (The husband always reminds me to note the cab’s number before getting in).
‘Police kalliwali (kalliwali means ‘I don’t care’ in Arabic), he said and sat staring at me as if challenging me.
I put a hand out and waved at the vehicle passing by, thinking my action would force him to either stop the car or behave well and drive me to work. Instead, he rolled the window up from his side laughing loud and playing the music even louder.
Luckily, I hadn’t said which lane and building I had to be dropped at. No sooner than we entered the area (my workplace being about 200 metres away), I demanded to get off.
“Yes”, I said opening the wallet.
Heaved a sigh of relief and crossed the road. Taking in the morning breeze to cool my nerves I walked leisurely. As I was at the gate a car screeched to a halt closely besides me.
The maniac driver, flaying his wrinkled hands (even in the shock I did notice coloured stones set in heavy silver on three of his fingers).
“You lying. I catch…”
I walked in and didn’t hear the rest.