Had a couple of great lessons since my last blog. We’ve delved deeper into Rag Mian Malhar and also looked into Rag Pliu. Rag Pilu is usually played in a light classical setting and the term mishra is normally used which means mixed. Great performers of this Rag are able to introduce shades and colours from other Rags, the skill, however, is never to loose the foundations of Rag Pilu. This is therefore a hard subject to learn, my teacher has a unique way of approaching this and has developed a number of paltas (melodic exercises/phrases) to demonstrate the fusing of Rag Pilu with other Rags. I was lucky enough to have some one on one time with Guruji tonight so after some Rag Pilu we played a little Rag Megh Malhar (another Rag of the Malhar group of Rags I mentioned in an earlier blog) before “shutting up shop” (as Guruji jokingly refers to it as) just before 10.30pm.

As I have to get at least 2 taxis everyday out here I thought I’d give you a quick breakdown of taxis in Mumbai. First of all there are loads of them so it will never take long to find one. When I first came to Mumbai in 1999 there was only one type of taxi, there now seems to be 3 :

– Black and yellow taxis are the oldest Mumbai taxis, probably about 50 years old if not older, it’s a miracle most of them are still on the road but they seem to keep them going. They still have the original meters which all the drivers should put on when you get in. As they are still original they still clock up as they would have done 50 years or so ago so all the taxi drivers are issued each year with a tariff chart which converts the total on the meter to it’s present day equivilant. So if the trip comes to 4 ruppees (about 5p) it will be about 14 times this 56 ruppees (70p).

– Newer black and yellow taxis are only a few years old and look like Fiats but I think they might be Suzukis. They have a digital meter in the them so no need for tariff chart.

– Blue AC taxis, some are called “cool” cabs, for obvious reasons. They have a digital meter but cost a bit more than the black and yellow taxis due to the AC.

A lot of taxi drivers will try and bump the fare up a bit but most of the time it’s not by much. Some will try and rip you off but this doesn’t happen too much and you can always get them to show you the tariff card if you want to challenge it. Also, a new thing since I was last here in 2006, is that they charge a night fare. It’s meant to be after midnight but some try it on as soon as it gets dark. One last thing, if you don’t want to go very far some of the taxi drivers aren’t keen to do the trip on the meter but you can negotiate a fixed price instead which will be above the meter price but still very reasonable. I usually pay 100 ruppees to get to Gurujis house which is about a 20 min taxi ride from Colaba.This is a little above the meter price but still only about £1.40!!