Imagine three girlfriends take on the precarious task of planning a holiday together since high school. But are only able to fulfill it when they are past their teens and in their late 20s. Yes, I and my two childhood friends belong to that community of people. Anyway, we decided to get on the road in mid-June and travel to a small village called Pangot around 14 km away from the hustle and bustle of Nainital. On top of it, we decided to hire a personal cab to make it to the village, approximately 308kms from our homes in Delhi NCR.

We booked the cab from a long distance cab aggregating app that assured us that a cab would pick us up at 11.30 in the night and from there on we were to make the nine-hour-long journey. Like a normal bunch of people, we believed that going by cab may be a little more expensive than taking a bus or a train but it would be far more comfortable and we’d be able to go anywhere we’d like, etc. The comfort we were hoping but alas, what we got was something we had never expected.

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Our journey began and in the initial 20km of it, we realized that our driver was a living nightmare I wouldn’t even wish upon my enemies. He started with constantly listening to our conversations and butting into what we were talking about. Then he would literally turn his head around several times when we sat silently to check on if we were all asleep or not while driving. And don’t even get me started on his rash driving and the sudden cuts he would take during that night journey. We made a pact on a WhatsApp group to be awake through the night and pray for our lives and guess what, he even peaked into my friend’s phone several times while she was typing a message to us.

We decided to get on the road in mid-June and travel to a small village called Pangot around 14 km away from the hustle and bustle of Nainital.

Long-Distance Cab Ride
A Landscape of Pangot, Uttarakhand

We were left dumbfounded because we couldn’t obviously return or we would instantly be tagged losers (from friends and family, who, anyway, doubted our capability of organizing a spick and span holiday) and going ahead was the only option we had. Eyes wide open, no words uttered—that’s how that frightful night passed. It made us realized that despite the fact that we were three and he was one, we were the weaker lot. He tried many times to make conversations or crack scary jokes like “Madam aap toh so gye, main so jaun toh? (Madam now that you have slept, shall I sleep too?)” but we frankly ignored it all. As the dawn approached, the mountains started closing in on us and we heaved a sigh of relief.

As soon as we reached our hotel in the village, we literally jumped out of the car and swore to never see him again. For two days that we were in Panghot, we barely saw him or when we did, we changed our path. Only once did we use his service to take the cab to Nainital, speaking only as much was required and reducing our activities to a bare minimum when around him. It isn’t like we didn’t enjoy our time and lived only in fear during our off days. We really had the best time together, ate so much and laughed so hard but in between all that fun stuff, we contemplated really hard on if it would be wise to go back to Delhi with him or should we just sneak out and take a bus back home instead?

Long-Distance Cab Ride
(L To R) Pooja Aggarwal, Mishika Nagpal and Poorvi Gupta)

As soon as we reached our hotel in the village, we literally jumped out of the car and swore to never see him again. For two days that we were in Panghot, we barely saw him or when we did, we changed our path.

But we weren’t feeling all that brave to go all the way to Nainital and take a bus from there and deal with the hassle of the driver and the cab company etc. so we took the lazy but chilling cab ride instead. I probably didn’t talk about his driving in detail which was actually the first reason that got my two friends (both fantastic car drivers and have been driving for over a decade) and I really annoyed. Despite us politely telling him many times to drive properly, he snubbed us off. But one time while we were returning, one of my friends got really angry and asked him to stop the car.

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They both had a scuffle. We sent out SOS alerts on the company’s mobile application and after a lot of back and forth between the company and us on phone, we were finally able to get him to drive properly.

This long-distance cab journey proved to be a bundle of lessons. When you believe you don’t have enough power over the other person, just speaking up sometimes matter. All kinds of men have male egos and we shouldn’t care a damn before smashing it because such men are hollow inside. And thirdly and most importantly, we need better and women-owned long-distance cab services in the country.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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