Auto!!

On one fine Saturday morning, I was waiting at BTM Bus Stop. With only 30 minutes for the movie to start, I was in a rush to reach PVR at Forum Mall in Koramangala, which was just 2 KM from there. If I had taken a bus, it would surely have taken me more than 30 minutes or so, thanks to the place where time just slows down. Yes, the Silk Board. I had no other option but to take an Autorickshaw which could zigzag its way from the lanes and take me to my destination in time. After waiting for some time, I found one empty Autorickshaw coming my way. I waved my hand to make him stop. Despite being vacant, the driver just glanced at me but didn’t stop. Maybe he was in a hurry himself, maybe I wasn’t enough good looking, maybe I didn’t have Maybelline. Another Autorickshaw was passing by. I shouted “Auto!”, he stopped. When I asked him, he just said “Neh!” and moved along, still vacant on the same road where it could have taken me easily and earned money. In a minute another one came. I asked him whether he will take me or not. Nonchalantly, he said, “Oh Forum aa? 200 Rupees!” without any shame or regret on his face. He demanded 200 Rupees as if I had asked him to drop me at the Airport. I said, “It is just 2 KM”. He got disappointed to see that I knew how far it was. He said nope and went away. I decided to walk towards my destination find an auto on the way. There was supposed to be an auto-stand half a kilometer away as well. When I reached there, I found 3-4 autos standing there. I went to one and asked “Sir, Forum?” The driver who was reading a newspaper gave me looks as if I had asked his daughter’s hand for marriage. I said sorry for disturbing him and chugged along. I asked another one, he said “Ok, 20 rupees extra. Lot of traffic there!”. I was getting impatient now. I sighed “Let’s go.”. Finally, I reached in 20 minutes.

I’m sure this must have happened to you as well? Right? When you were just refused or were asked
for an exorbitant amount or had to shelve 20-30 Rupees extra?

Fortunately or unfortunately, Auto Rickshaws in India are the most common mode of transport, aren’t they? From small towns to big cities, you can find them everywhere. In fact, if you want to draw a picture of a market Scene in India, your picture will be incomplete unless you show a small yellow black toy looking 3-wheeler adorning the side of the road. I happened to read a blog post by a journalist Anand Ramachandran on Yahoo sometime ago. He, originally from Chennai, had just moved from Mumbai to Bangalore and he had an acute observation about Auto Rickshaws of all these cities. He said that while auto drivers of Mumbai are businessmen and part-time tourist guides, auto drivers of Chennai are basically gangsters. In Bangalore, they are hobbyists Autorickshaw drivers. He said that unlike other cities, Auto Rickshaws in Bangalore are just for aesthetic reasons and decorative purposes and serve no actual function. Maybe they are already very rich real estate owners themselves so they just don’t really care. To top all that, they live under a huge misconception that IT guys are rich people. IT guys and rich? Autorickshaws are going to take you for a ride, when they take you for a ride. Auto Rickshaws Drivers have personality of Dhanush but they carry the Attitude of Rajinikanth.

Love it or hate it, auto rickshaws are something which actually works in a place like India. They are small enough to get into any lane, no matter how narrow it could be and big enough to carry 3-4 people and even more if the driver decides to allow. He himself will sit in the smallest area possible to fit a human backside but if there is shared auto possible, he will easily fit 5-6 people without breaking much sweat. And the way they drive? They don’t really care how narrow or busy the street is. They still drive like James Bond and as a passenger, you have to hold whatever is available possible to save yourself. I had thought that after the inception of more buses, or cab services or even Metro, the attitude of Auto Rickshaws will improve but all in vain.

Did you think that through my speech I was going to present a solution to the menace of Autorickshaw Drivers? Nope. When we cannot improve after so many years, how will they? I guess, Autos in India suit our sensibilities as a nation. I just think when I will get fed up with my life as an IT engineer, I would become an Autorickshaw driver myself. And when some will call me to take them to any destination, I will demand at least 100 Rupees extra, just to see how it feels.

Above is my speech from Toastmasters Pathways Level 1 Project 2 Speech 1. I delivered it twice wearing Yellow Shirt and Black Jeans. Because appearance matters.

Heavily inspired from a previous post: http://abhinavbhatt.com/blog/diary-of-an-auto-driver/

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