Indian Taxi

Source TOI  Image via The Hindu

Source TOI Image via The Hindu

Before there were blogs, I spent a quarter studying sustainable development in southern India. I maintained an email distribution list of friends who wanted updates on my travels. Many nights involved entertainments of the herbal or alcoholic kind; there were roof-top full-moon parties and midnight swims in the ocean (the floating garbage was harder to see in the moonlight); some evenings were spent on planting plans and composting toilet design. But occasionally, I sat down at a computer and wrote about my adventures. This is one of those stories.

I have got a great idea for a video game. Maybe you can call it Calcutta Cab, or Indian Taxi. But anyway, it’s sort of a mix of Cool Boarders and Gran Turismo. Instead of choosing between the Ferrari and the Honda, you choose the Ambassador with brakes or the one with gas. You can choose your character, like in Cool Boarders- Krishna, Mutu or Peter.

At the beginner levels, you are given a map, and verbal directions. At the higher levels you must deliver a foreign tourist to an unfamiliar destination written on a slip of paper. Scoring is based on how fast you reach your destination and on average travel speed. Bonus points are awarded for how close you get to other vehicles without crashing. You also get one point for every time you honk the horn. Penalties are given for hitting things, five points for inanimate objects, 20 for dogs, 50 for cows. The game ends when you hit a bus. Oncoming traffic costs more than same direction traffic.

During the game, fowl, cats, dogs, goats, cows, pigs, pedestrians, and bicycles can come out of nowhere going in any direction. Pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes, herds of cows, bull carts, taxis, rickshaws, SUVs and buses can be part of oncoming traffic, or try to pass you.

Someone told me about a boat racing game where you can race along accurate representations of the canals of Venice and Amsterdam. For this game you could choose Delhi, Calcutta or Chennai. If anyone has ever succeeded in mapping them, that is.

Sounds like a cool game, no?

Note: In the decade since I wrote this, I think someone has created a video game based on the actual streets of major cities. If I ever have time to play video games again, I will have to track it down.

The Ambassador, India's only taxi.

The Ambassador, India’s only taxi.

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