If you’ve noticed, auto drivers are always a specimen by themselves. In any given city/state, auto drivers have their own characteristics. [Unlike bus drivers, who are the same bad, rash people all over the country, with no sense of ‘middle of the road’, ‘bus bay’ and ‘bus stops’. Sometime, they even think a red traffic light is as good as a bus stop; only, when it turns green, the spot remains a bus stop!]
In Trivandrum, once, after a truckload of shopping with my aunt, we piled into an auto with everything and asked him to take us to my aunt’s place. Now, her house has got its own private lane (a long driveway with a 30-degree slant), which is set within another private lane (a kilometer long one that’s not tarred) which branches off from the main road. The driver is happy when we get in, because its along drive from the shopping area. But the moment we reach the mud road, he refuses to move the auto an inch further. Finally, we coax him into driving further, saying we can’t lug all the bags all the way by ourselves. He agree and we rumble all the way till we reach the driveway. He doesn’t like 30-degree slants. He refuses to go further again. We point at the bags. Finally, grumbling, we drive down and reach the porch when he says, “Ithippo vannu vannu adukkala vare ethiyallo” (we’ve driven almost right into the kitchen). And my aunt coolly replies: “engi keri oru kutti puttadichttu poykko” (then why don’t you come in and have a plate of ‘puttu’)
Another time in Trivandrum, the same aunt and myself get into an auto and go to my school (I had passed out from 12th from there just a month back then) to pick my cousin up. If we go by the metre, it’d come to a max of Rs 25. The hero demands Rs 45. The aunt is enraged, but politely tell him that’s outrageous – and that she’ll give him 30. But he’s stubborn…and a small quarrel begins. By then, a few of my classmates are strolling in (our results were published and we were constantly in and out, for some certificate or the other – mostly, just to see friends ) He sees them and figures that we both wouldn’t particularly want to get insulted in front of some good-lloking guys And he says “Enikkengum venda ningade pichakaashu” (I didn’t ask for alms from you; I don’t want your petty cash), and throws it back on my aunts face. Now, she’s enraged and not polite about it She tells him that she wont be insulted AT ALL if he raises his voice in front of a few guys who are her own son’s age…and promptly turns around and walks into the school! Hehe…our school has a ‘no-entry for public vehicles and autorickshaws (and their drivers)’ and did not let him enter! We had to stay in there for about an hour and half…and the man lost his Rs 25!
In Chennai, once. Am with a friend, going to Spencer’s plaza from Adayar, which is like a 6-7 km drive.
Me: Spencer’s Plaza?
Me: How much?
AD: 150 roopees, ma.
Me: What? It’s hardly 6-7 kms.
AD: 150 roopees, ma. (they don’t believe in that cute little thing called a ‘metre’!)
Me: Ithu romba annyayam thaane. Konjam reasonable-aa sollu. Yevalo? (Isn’t this unfair? Give a reasonable aret. How much?)
AD: (with new respect in eyes): 50 roopees ok-vaa?
In Mumbai once. Am going from Dombivali to someplace that’s like 3 km away, with my friend. She’s in a hurry to reach her dad’s bank before closing time. And there are no other autos in sight.
Friend: ___ Ice-factory. Kithna hoga bhaiyya?
AD: Nahin jaayenge.
Friend: Huh? Metre se double denge. Thoda jaldi hai…
AD: Nahin jaayenge.
Friend: Bhaiya pls…
AD: Bola naa…nahin jaayenge. (And he speeds off in exactly that direction!)
In Kochi, once. A friend and I decide to take a ric, and after calling him over, realise we don’t want one.)
Me: Alls…sorry. Auto venda (don’t want an auto)
AD: Njaan metre idaam (I’ll put the metre on.)
Me: [I gape in shock! They usually just utter a random number they like, and suffix a a zero or two ] Alla…venda…it’s ok. (I start walking off and the auto keeps pace with me!)
AD: Extra tharandenne… (You don’t have to pay me anything extra)
Me: (cooking up a lie) Alla, enikk backpain ondu. Inganathe autoyil keraan pattilla (I have backpain; can’t travel by this type of auto).
AD: Njaan pathukke odikkam pengale (I’ll drive slowly).
Me: (exasperated) Fine. Di, let’s go.
He actually takes double the time than usual to take us home !
P.S.: The ONLY time I had a god experience with Kochi autos.
In Bangalore, all the time.
Me: (want to say ‘Race course road’) “Race…”
AD: (giving me a dirty look, speeds off)
Me: (want to say ‘J.P. Nagar’) “J.…”
AD: (giving me a dirty look, speeds off)
Me: (want to say ‘Domalur Fly over’) “Doml…”
AD: (doesn’t even wait to give the dirty look, speeds off)
Me: (want to say ‘Koramangala’) “…”
AD: (waves his head in the negative from a distance, speeds off)
Me: (ready with my latest technique ) Domalur Fly over hogthira? (3 km from home; Rs 21 on metre)
AD: 50 roopis.
Me: Metre aak beku (go by the metre).
AD: (shakes his head; about to speed off)
Me: (as if I just remembered) Actually, Bagmane hog beku (have to go to Bagmane)… (Bagmane TechPark is at least 10 km from home; about 75-80 on metre)
AD: (nods greedily)
ME: (reaches Domalur flyover) Illi swalpa stop maadi sir (please stop here).
Ad: (stops and asks) Illi saaka? Bagmane? (Don’t you want to go to Bagmane, then?)
Me: Beda, illi saku (nope, this is enough) [hop off, hand over 21 ‘roopis’ and scrams; idea worked… Me happy;)]
At all other times, they either want twice or thrice the amount on the metre; have no change for 100, so will drive 2 km extra and then give change for whatever the metre shows then; will go, but will fly over bumps and potholes and break one’s back; will try to squeeze into any empty spot, graze against a scooter and go out and bash the scooter driver up; or refuse to go short distances…and then chase you once they get a longer drive in the same direction (typical two-birds-with-one-shot story)!
Autos: can’t live without them; Auto-drivers: can’t stand them!