Kishwar Desai | Cabbie returns Meghnad’s “ideas”; sexism finally claims Cressida


How many of us have left our laptops and iPads in taxis or airports or random places and then wildly hoped they would be miraculously returned?

It’s highly unlikely of course, but it happened to us. One day, while taking a taxi, Meghnad discovered that he had returned home without his precious iPad on which many books and ideas were loaded, none of which had been saved anywhere.
So there was sadness and dismay all around. But surprisingly, he was optimistic. It’s because of the legendary honesty of the “Black Cab” driver in London. If the black taxi driver had found it, Meghnad said confidently, he would definitely return it. However, when nothing happened for a few days, we had no choice but to head to an Apple store to buy a new iPad. Luckily before we got to the store a message came from the driver – he had managed to track down Meghnad and sent his number with a note that he had left the iPad at Charing Cross police station and we should rushing us there to take otherwise it would go to the lost and found department.

Delighted beyond belief, we headed to the train station and found the lost and found collection system very tidy and neat. The duty officer immediately found the iPad, carefully sealed in a plastic bag, and handed it over to Meghnad.

There’s also a fixed rewards system that the officer told us about — and we’ve given a small “reward” to the taxi driver who will receive it as they should. (You are not allowed to give big rewards through this system.) Because people leave things so frequently in London’s black cabs, the methodology is very well implemented.

Having the books and ideas stored in the iPad again obviously means the world to any author. And so Meghnad wanted to express his gratitude to the taxi driver in another way as well. So he invited the driver and his wife to the House of Lords for lunch! All’s well That ends well!


Meanwhile, delivering the keynote speech for the World Summit on “Reinventing Museums in India” for the Ministry of Culture (Government of India) had its perks for me. The most important being that I felt I had to go out now, post-Covid, and see how museums are doing. Although there are wonderful exhibitions going on, like on Beatrix Potter and her works, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the Virtual Museum or the Van Gogh exhibit which won rave reviews everywhere. Set on over 20,000 square feet – it offers 360 degree views of the artist’s paintings – with virtual reality giving you a fabulous immersive experience. You can feel the sky raining sunflowers – and all the paintings seem miraculously alive. It’s a fascinating exhibition, especially since it gives us a completely different look at the artist’s works. Reinvented museums should also have reinvented exhibits. There’s no point in having digital screens if they don’t add to the viewer’s experience…


…And the strangest thing happened to the police commissioner of the legendary Metropolitan Police Force. Having started this column with a positive story about how the police department can operate, let me end it on a negative note. The Chief of Police, Dame Cressida Dick, represented many things: she was a woman and she was gay. There was a lot of hope when she was appointed commissioner in 2017. It was believed that many aspects of the valiant Scotland Yard, once the pinnacle of professionalism, would improve. But unfortunately she resigned because she was accused, strangely, of not being able to get rid of sexism, racism and homophobia within the police – and in particular at Charing Cross police station which I wrote about such glowing words above.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan had left her little choice but to resign, when he put her on notice to turn things around within weeks, which of course is impossible in such a great force.

Home Secretary Priti Patel wasn’t too happy about the sudden departure of the top cop, but she had no choice.

And for many of us it was a particular tragedy – because on the one hand you had a mayor of Pakistani origin and on the other an interior minister of Indian origin who eventually sacked a white British police chief. It’s amazing how the balance of power has changed!

But it was also a sad moment, because if a woman can’t get rid of misogyny in a police force, who can?

However, Dame Cressida stayed until she could wrap up the ongoing “Partygate” investigation!


And yes, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is still at number 10 Downing Street, but has been handed a list of questions to be answered by the Metropolitan Police. And of course, if the war between Ukraine and Russia breaks out, many say that the Prime Minister may have fled again!


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