Wednesday, May 28, 2008

As you like it

There have been so many posts on similar lines that I left the name of the title to be decided by the reader.

Any one who has as much as put a toe nail in Chennai will surely mention this feature of the city - the auto rickshaw drivers. And I have set up my home here - how would I not pay my homage to a credo of this city.

On a working day I commute using auto rickshaws. Now for the first one month, each day was full of suspense as to which auto I would take, how would the driver be, how much would I end up eking out. There were many options available to me - namely - picking up an/any auto plying on the road after stepping out of the house. Since the drivers could read "alien" written on my forehead in Comic sans font, they would spell the most atrocious, humongous amount their brain could imagine at that moment. I would give a look of utter disgust/amusement/surprise/anger and many more depending on my frame of mind at that juncture. Then after quite a bit of haggling and waste of time, I would get the ride.

The other option was a "
Call Auto"(I salute the creative and entrepreneurial genius of the person who started this!) In this format I would call the "call auto" center ( their services are available from 0700hrs to 1900hrs everyday of the week), and book an auto for the designated trip at a particular time. Now this class of auto drivers do a unique thing that NO OTHER Community of auto drivers do. They use the ELECTRONIC METER!!!! And a major service for the well being of the aam junta. But they too have a household to run, kids education to be financed, fuel to be filled, booze to be had :| , how would they manage these simple mortal chores with the paltry income. So they just charge Rs 20 extra. This works out much cheaper than the price one would reach with any degree of passionate haggling. But, But, But - who said life is all rosy dandy? There is a CATCH! They call up 30 mins before the time you want to move and confirm whether they have an auto for you or not (resource scarcity you see) This means you remain on tenterhooks till the celestial call comes. It worked fine sporadically for me. 2 days in a row I would get an auto, but then 3rd day, the auto would have its gear wire messed up. And I would have my schedule messed up big time. I endured it for quite some time. But every time why the bloody gear wire messing syndrome with me!!???? One day I took the number of the MD from the driver who used to frequently ferry me and asked him to come up with a new excuse each day. The gear wire getting damaged was getting a bit monotonous. Puncture would be another good option.

After that I severed all ties with Call Auto services.

And the knights in shining armors were the auto drivers from the local auto stand. Now they charge the normal Rs 150 drop me at office, but no other hassles. No crib session by them, no confirmation calls to make me all jittery; I have in fact started recognizing some of them :)

Now so much was for my auto rides for getting to my office. The chronicles of the return trips have a story of their own.

To get back home I use share autos - these are huge toad shaped auto rickshaws in which anything from 6-12 people can travel. Before I get into any of them I make it a point to ask the driver where is his vehicle bound to. Some times, the drivers choose not to reply. I seriously feel like slapping the buster and flinging some choicest slangs at him. Come on what about the great Indian tradition of Customer being king?? Atleast minimum courtesy the dude can reply where his auto is going right? But no. Hmm.. Whatever.

The share autos don't go till my home. So from the last stop I have to haul another auto rickshaw and reach home. Each day I get to meet a new specimen of driver. Yesterday the driver wanted to get rid of me ASAP. At every intersection he asked, Madam shall I drop you here? Madam shall I drop you here? I was like WTH!!!!!! With the rudest voice, I shot back, Mister I will tell you where you have to drop me. Look at the road and drive on.

He gave the most sulky look any mortal could muster and muttered something about the distance being too much and I paying him peanuts. (It pays not to understand the language fully :) )

Each day of travel is a travail for me in fact.


Anonymous said...

thats autowallas 4 u....wonder what they r all same yevrywhere

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Sat said...

Array yaar, You should see Bangalore autowala's. You wont believe, you and i are in the same boat, even i dont know this local language and hence struggle to get an auto. Its actually laser printed on my face (B, I, U) that i am a "Tamilian" and autowala's fight amongst themselves to take me in their auto's, the fact being, what ever they demand i pay :(.

BTW - Dont get surprised if I start a FAN club for your blog :)).


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