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What will a world without GPS look like? “Sab thapp ho jayega (Everything will stop),” replies Phool Singh Chauhan with a hearty laugh. “Young people completely rely on GPS locations and are clueless about the streets.” Chauhan, 39, has been driving taxis for the past 15 years, well before the smartphone revolution. He bought a car—Swift Dzire—a few months ago and has just begun working with app-based taxi services. Until May, he was employed with a traditional taxi-fleet owner.
He remembers the days when navigation could be quite cumbersome. “When I was new to the profession, I ferried an old couple to Patna following a family death. Mobiles were a luxury at that time. We entered Patna at midnight and the couple was clueless about the directions. STDs and PCOs (phone booths) were closed. We kept wandering on the streets for nearly two hours as there was no one to guide us to the destination.”
However, things have changed with the logistics, taxi and home delivery services that have sprung up on the back of Google Maps. “Both Ola and Uber use the app and if their network is down, we switch to Maps to reach the destination. WhatsApp location also uses the service,” he says. “I wish these apps had come earlier. I missed seeing my daughter grow up and the pranks that my son played. I wasn’t with them when they were sick and my wife alone took care of them.”
(As told to Jyotika Sood)