Biography of Mumbai City through Its Taxi Drivers

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Chhavi SHARMA, IIT Bombay, India
Mumbai city has been written about as a cosmopolitan city, as a melting pot that has people from all walks of life, from different parts of the country to access better prospects of economic upward mobility for themselves and for the generations to come next along with simultaneous assertions of Maratha identity from past few decades. It has been written about extensively in terms of housing, its slums, its religious diversity, being the manufacturing hub to becoming the commercial capital, hub of Indian (Hindi) cinema, having an underbelly of smuggling and other criminal activities, etc.

My effort is to present biography of the Mumbai city through the narratives of taxi drivers who have been associated with taxi trade of the city that started in 1909. Taxi drivers of the city have mostly been migrants to the city, who moved from small remotely situated villages to a large metropolitan city that’s ever expanding and have left an indelible mark on making of this city.

Drawing from interviews of taxi drivers detailing their lives as taxi drivers in the city and their constant touch with their native places in the rural hinterlands of the country along with interviews of their leader and archival material this paper would want to show the transformation of the city through the change of key practices- structural and operational of this century old taxi trade. Taxi that’s both simultaneously symbolic and operational necessity of the city shall allow me to show how the macro makings of the city change the everyday at a micro, rather an individual level. It shall be an endeavor to make a biography of Mumbai through biography of its quintessential taxi and taxi drivers and the reciprocity of this process.