Recently when I was in Kolkata and the first thing we did was to book a taxi for our hotel. There was a long queue at pre-paid counter outside Shealda railways station, but I planned to queue up. Within few minutes a gentleman came to us and said that he can drop us at the same rate and we need not wait in the queue. We asked about the money and he asked for 210 Rs for Elgin. That sounded very cheap and without any second thought we took his taxi.
We used these yellow taxis for all our commute in the city for 4 days and they seriously made our experience better.
The driver who dropped us to our hotel told us his story and plans for future. He felt proud when he showed us his daughter's school who is doctor in AIIMS now. And he intends to shift to Delhi to spend more time with his daughter and her family. We reached our hotel in 15 minutes and he was telling various things about his family and kids.
Gradually we realized that all these yellow taxis run on meter and that costs you much less. On top of that most of them would not say no. You have to just stop the taxi, tell the name of the place and sit down. Initially we were hesitating and used to ask if he is interested to go to XYZ place and how much he would charge. We realized that folks were charging a bit more than actual fare, but it was not a huge different.
By third day we were familiar with the city and it's different locations like Elgin, Park Street, Victoria Memorial, Eden Garden, Howrah, North Kolkata, Shyam Bazar, Hati Bagan, Indian Museum, New Market, Princep Ghat, Babughat etc. We had gained a good sense of directions, which is not very difficult in cities like Kolkata. In fact, I also taravelled in local buses and metro. That gives you a perspective about places and the best ways to reach them. Now we started following the practice of asking the driver for the place and take seat. He would gradually switch on the meter, which would cost you much cheaper. Most of the times we paid between 45 rs - 80 Rs. Can you imagine such fare in Delhi. I am sure that auto would also cost more in Delhi as compared to these yellow taxies in Kolkata.
At times, we had to ditch these yellow beauties because of weather. It was quite humid, so we preferred Ola over these taxis. These yellow taxis don't have ACs.
While we are talking about easy commute in Kolkata, I must also warn that one should avoid taxies during weekdays if they can commute in Metro. We did this mistake, which costed us 1.5 extra. Traffic jams are normal in Kolkata and especially in North Kolkata. We had to return back to Elgin from Jorashakho Thakurbadi. We took yellow taxi, which took 2 hrs to reach Elgin. And there is a Metro station at walking distance and by Metro it would have taken max 45 minutes to reach Elgin. So Metro in Kolkata is always preferred.
I found drivers in Kolkata very helpful. Most of them very polite in sharing information about the city and encourage you to explore some of the specialities they were aware of. Above is photograph of driver who drove us to our Hotel from Railway-station.
Overall it was a brilliant experience to explore the city in these yellow beauties. I wish we had something like this in Delhi as well :)