Saturday, October 25, 2014

My First Uber Ride in Bangalore.

Uber ride in Bangalore?

I have experienced Uber ride in the US, and it has been quite pleasant.

My enthusiasm for experiencing an Uber ride in Bangalore, was boundless, as I landed last Tuesday. I had specially bought an Android smartphone as I landed in India so that I could use Uber App during my stay. (Use of an unlocked iPhone with a North America number, while possible, can add up to quite a sum while roaming internationally).
Relative Abundance of UberX
Cars in the Heart of Bangalore
However, it was not until I failed to obtain any such service in a couple of residential neighborhoods such as Jayanagar and Malleswaram that I began to feel that all that promotion that Uber themselves had made — almost as cheap as auto-rickshaw — was probably a little bit of marketing hype ... until, that is, I happened to get to the center of the city yesterday, near The Cash Pharmacy, for some business work.

When, around 4:45 pm, I logged into the Uber App on the Android phone and requested a ride, the App greeted me saying the car would arrive in 6 minutes.

Elated, I was.
I was not looking forward to an auto-rickshaw alternative this time, having already done one leg on a rickshaw, an hour or so earlier. Who would, during rush hour? You'd have to inhale mounds of automobile exhaust as the rickshaw snaked through the city roads.
Back to the Uber ride.

A Toyota Etios arrived in 8 or so minutes. Clean interior. The delay, the driver explained, was due to incorrect information he had from his handheld. It seemed my texting — SMS, in this part of the world — my location to the driver helped.
Why? I wondered. The driver should have my location information, thanks to Google Maps, right?
The driver was a friendly individual. He helped with whatever little luggage I had to lug, and dropped it in the trunk — dickie, in this part of the world.

Driver: Where are we going?
Why is he asking me this? Doesn't he already know? I had specifically used a landmark that Google had already mapped, while requesting the ride — J P Nagar Police Station; I didn't use my actual destination, which was less than half a kilometer from the landmark, and which Google would only know approximately anyway.
It was then he explained why he wanted to confirm the destination. It seems one of the hazards of Bangalore Uber drivers is that the customers do not always mention the destination correctly when they request the ride. So, invariably, it needs to be reconfirmed to make sure the driver is not wasting fuel.

Some more friendly chat ensued. How the Uber ride collections were only supplements to his other income, etc. And, the explanation for why I didn't find Uber rides in Jayanagar or Malleswaram: It seems that Uber drivers hang out in prominent locations such as M G Road, Whitefield, etc., where there is a higher probability of finding a ride.

I guided the driver to my actual destination after reaching near the police station, got off the car, shook hands with the driver, with the ride completed in good, friendly, comfort1.

As again, no need for exchange of any card or cash: Magic happens within the Uber App.

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