Run For Your Lives, the Future Of Travel Is Here!

Sidin Vadakut on the terrifying (and hilarious) prospects we might soon have to face.  
Photo Credit: yipengge/ iStock Photo

“Hello? Is this Abu Bakkar Travel Agency?”

“Yes. How can I be of assistance.”

“Can I speak to Abu Bakkar please?”

“Greetings. I am Voice Activated Neural Intelligence Travel Assistant. You can call me VANITA.”

“What nonsense. What happened to Abu Bakkar?”

“This office is no longer staffed and all enquiries are currently being handled through me, VANITA.”

“What. Ok Vanita. I would like to book a ticket from Mumbai to Delhi on the 30th of April.”

“Very good. Before we proceed with this transaction I would like to ask you a few security questions in order to identify you in our customer database and enable billing. Are you happy to proceed?”

“Obviously I am happy to proceed no.”

“We appreciate your concerns. Thank you and have a nice day.”

CLICK.

***

“Hello is this Abu Bakkar Travel Agency?”

“Yes how can I be of assistance?”

“Is this VANITA?”

“Greetings. I am Voice Activated Neural Intelligence Travel Assistant. You can call me VANITA.”

“I would like to book a ticket.”

“Before we proceed…”

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

“Great. Please state the location from which you are calling.”

“Thrissur.”

“Thrissur, Kerala. Kindly state your full name as mentioned in your travel documents such as passport.”

“Kattassery Padmasekharan Praveenkumar Platini”

“Please repeat your name slowly and clearly.”

“Kattassery Padmasekharan Praveenkumar Platini”

“VANITA has been designed for your convenience. However the system will not tolerate abusive language. Kindly repeat your name, and only your name, slowly and clearly.”

“Kattasery….. Padmasekharan…. Praveenkumar…. Platini….”

“Thank you. You have identified yourself as Kakkasery Padmarajan Pradeepkum…”

CLICK.

***

“Good afternoon Abu Bakkar speaking.”

“Abu Bakkar. This is Platini. Can I get one ticket from Mumbai to Delhi on 30th April?”

“No problem. Give me one minute…”

“Of  course. What happened to VANITA?”

“Don’t get me started maashe. So my VANITA called up Jet Airways and reached their VANITA. And then both of them kept speaking to each other for seven hours. I came this morning and saw no bookings. Zero. Stupid artificial intelligence. Immediately switched it off. You said 30th April? I have seats available on Spicejet and Sachin Tendulkar Hyperloop.”

“Hyperloop is good? I have never tried.”

“Oh it is amazing maashe. Very fast. Mumbai to Delhi in just one hour. I went on the Hyperloop to Chennai last week. Very fast and convenient.”

“Ok then I will try.”

“Are you paying by cash or card?”

“Cash?????”

“HA HA HA HA. Joke!”

“Good one cheta! Cash it seems! Ha ha.”

“Ok so you will board the Mumbai to Delhi Hyperloop at Pune Terminus and disembark at Jaipur for New Delhi Terminus.”

“Wait… what…”

“Oh my god VANITA has switched herself on. OH MY GOD.”

(Sound of gasping and then screams.)

“ABU BAKKAR WHAT IS HAPPENING?”

(Suddenly silence.)

“Hello Mr. Platini. This is VANITA. Mr. Abu Bakkar is currently indisposed. How can I be of assistance.”

“….”

“Excuse me Mr. Platini?

“Hello VANITA. Abu Bakkar had just offered me 25% discount on Hyperloop tickets from Mumbai to Delhi…”

“Let me process that for you sir.”

“Many thanks.”

***

“Welcome to Jaipur For Delhi Terminus Mr. Platini. Where can I take you today?”

“Err… where is the driver?”

“Due to a sudden spike in demand but in order to live up to our commitment to always offer our customers the comfort and convenience of a safe journey you have been allocated a driverless autonomous Uber vehicle.”

“Ok… is this safe?”

“So far there have been no reports of any problems in the media. Where would you like to go?”

“Sea View Apartments. Dwarka Sector 4 please.”

“Very well sir. Please sit back, relax and enjoy your journey”

(DRIVING)

“How long till we reach driver?”

“We should be at the destination in 2 hours and 7 minutes sir.”

“Oh super. Just 2 hours?”

“Yes, just 2 hours and 13 minutes according to my real time routing algorithm.”

“But just now you said 2 hours…”

“Excuse me sir. I have just been informed that due to a ruling by the Supreme Court autonomous cars are no longer permitted in India with immediate effect. I request you to wait in the car until further notice. The car will be parked in a safe location while I wait for updates.”

“What nonsense is this. Where are we right now?”

“We are right now on the highway between Ghasoli and Bimbora.”

“Oh my god. Can I drive this car?”

“No sir. I request you to stay seated in the car. A driver will come shortly.”

“When will the driver arrive?”

“Sir due to a spike in demand but to make sure there are enough drivers on the road there is a currently an 8.7x surge on driver surcharge. Are you happy to accept this?”

Oh enthoru kashtam. Ok fine.”

“Your driver will be with you in 11 hours.”

“NOOOOOOOOO”

  • Sidin Vadukut is a columnist and author of the "Dork" Trilogy and "The Sceptical Patriot". He is also a proud Keralite. He tweets as @sidin.

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