Uber in Delhi does not run quite the same way as uber in say, a city like Los Angeles. 

The San Francisco-based creators designed the ever more popular app to streamline the process of joining ride-seeker to ride-provider utilizing the technology of GPS.  In California, ride-seeking client enters address into the uber app and within seconds, a map appears crawling with minute images of ant-like cars swarming a honey jar.  Within minutes, one of these cars is on its way, GPS seamlessly guiding it to the client’s location-enabled smartphone or a specific address.  The car arrives, the client enters and then the driver sets off to her desired destination, utilizing one of several apps which efficiently analyze traffic conditions to determine the best route.  Upon arrival, the customer exits the car and the ride is charged to her credit card, a cashless transaction involving the bare minimum of driver-rider interaction.  One individualized automaton bobbing through a sterile universe of self-proficient consumer-workers.

In Delhi, however, it is quite the inverse situation, and not just because you have the option to pay with cash.  Firstly, attempting to open the uber app is a hit-or-miss affair (same applies to Ola, the Indian version of this taxi service masquerading as a tech company, but for brevity’s sake, let’s just stick to uber and remember it’s a catch-all term for all “ride-sharing” apps).  It may open.  It may not.  It may still think that you’re on your last ride completed six days ago.  Who knows?  Then, if it doesn't open, the network will doubtlessly be slow so it can take upward of twenty minutes to enter the pick-up address and your destination.  Once a car is on its way, the driver will invariably call and ask you where you are and how to get there.  This is very befuddling because it belies the point of GPS which should in fact guide him to you.  If you’re a barely-Hindi-speaking person like myself, you must grab the nearest Hindi-speaker who will spend no less than four minutes giving detailed instructions about your location.  Sometimes when you’re in a strange place, this kind good Samaritan is actually a complete stranger whom you just collared and then shoved your cell phone in his/her face gesticulating with panicked gestures.  On a good day, the driver will just call one time.  On a bad day, the driver may call up to six times to actually find you.

By this stage, you are already late.



Melissa Tandiwe Myambo is an author, academic

and aerobics instructor.

Homo sum: humani nil
a me alienum puto

Communal Uber in Delhi,

                                      Traffic-Jammed Ethics

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