Little did I realise that it was time for me to get ready and rush back to the hotel.It was already 4.My train would leave at 5:30pm. I called out to a few taxies asking them to take me to the United Bank,near Dalhousie square. Initial few didn't get the location. At last an old uncle got it. He asked me to sit. I hopped and asked him to hurry. At the next signal somewhere near Park, it appeared. I have always been wary of Hijras. They get me $#!t scared. The yellow old taxi did not have powered windows. The Hijra had inserted his hands through the gaping open space in the half pulled down window and was touching my purse and asking me to depart from 100 Rs in my bag. I said I didn't have 100. I said I wouldn't pay more than 40.(I know that's lousy bargaining) He said "Give me 100, I'll give you change" I was looking at the signal with a hope that it turns green and the taxi gets ready to leave. 20 more seconds left. Not willing to undergo any further confrontation I parted with 100 Rs and the Hijra indeed gave me 60 Rs back with a plethora of blessings for my future generations.
After the signal turned green, my driver asked me in Bengali how much I gave the Hijra. I said 40 Rs. He went crazy. He said" Didi, that's way above his standard income from per person. They should not be given more than 10 Rs. You should have asked me Didi ."
I told him I had no change.
He said" I would have given you change worth 10. These Hijras get money for no work and here people like me work day and night and earn peanuts". He kept sulking remarking,"Every man has his fate and at times even Hijras". I snapped at him saying "Dada you should have intervened while he was trying to force his hands inside the car aiming for the money." He countered saying " Didi, I thought you would have given him 10 rupees and left him. That is what normal people in Kolkata do.Moreover I didn't get your Hindi"
By this time I had reached my destination.
It was 4:30 and I had to rush for the station. The Taxi Driver clocked the meter. The meter had clocked 40 Rs. I handed him out 40 Rs. He smiled sheepishly.I knew why.
I felt stupid at myself , angry at the Hijra and had mixed feeling for the taxi driver .