Prerequisite (must read): C.K.Meena’s article ‘the velvet touch’ under the section CITY LIGHTS in the Hindu supplement MetroPlus dated 7th (Wednesday) of February about the guys who drive the auto rickshaws – the life line of namma Bengalooru.
Having read this article in the morning of Wednesday, I tell my roommate in the evening that these guys in Bengalooru are much better when compared to their compatriots in Chennai, and that having read this article we can anticipate their smart antics and was getting ready to leave to take the night train to Chennai and had to board it in the Majestic railway station.
Got ready and left home at 21:15:00 to board the 22:45:00 train, I wave for a auto rickshaw and for my great luck, the days hero – a young guy turns up without a fight and I ask him if he can come to ‘Majestic railway station’ and he says Yes Sir with such josh that I am left wondering whether a trip to the station is like a annual vacation for him.
I keep my bags inside and he asks me whether he can start, which sort of gave me the feeling of those rally cars waiting for the seconds countdown to end to give the final rush of fuel to tear away, the feeling came true as he very rudely snapped the gear to first and threw the clutch back and trust me the auto was in ‘take-off’ mode with complete acceleration and no deceleration in spite of signals being against him.
My worries against missing the train due to traffic holdups were replaced by the worry of my bags flying out of the spacious dual exits on either side of the auto caused by the artificial gravity pull backwards due to his brilliantly worrisome driving or rather flying, which made me clutch my bags with care.
The Bajaj’s and the Fresco’s aren’t really customer/auto guy friendly, if they were Can they explain the audacious reason why the drivers seat is situated right in the center of the front rather than the left or right of the auto? This poor guy was forced to sit in the left most corner of his seat and was driving with a particular angled view of the road and had to literally stretch out to hit the brakes (maybe that was a reason why he braked so less!).
Having seen the state polices advice in several mediums of information, I search for the license board which is supposed to be displayed behind the driver’s seat I find it to be missing adding to my misery.
As we neared the church on JC road, the signal finally gets the better of him and makes him slow down and stop, but to hurt his ego another auto guy decides to challenge his line position and squeezes his vehicle in front of him which leaves our hero angry and murmuring under his breath rather under the roar of the silencer less vehicle. As the signal countdown starts to end 6..5..4..3..our hero is revving up on the first gear ..2..1..and zoooooom he makes his back right wheel to go over the pavement to overtake the other guy and he has won the 5 meter race which me makes me want to ask him whether his auto alone has “Dual Hydro Jet Engines and Disc Brakes”. I also had this doubt whether the aero show was giving him such motivation and whether he wanted to put the Russians with their new Mirages to shame with his super old yellow autooo.
As we near Majestic, am more than happy as I near my end point, but there’s more to this story. He goes straight to Majestic bus terminus and parks and says that Sir thank you, I tell him ‘boss nammey Majestic railway station challna hai’ (in my broken Kannada – Hindi mix) and he says O…and he starts and explains a long one way route due to the bad traffic police policies in the city and takes me to the railway station.
I notice the meter reading is 59.xx while getting out, so I give him a 100 rupee note and a 10 rupee note so that he can return a 50 rupee note back to me, then immediately he says Sir one and a Half, so I put my head again to check the fare and by the time am done say in 15 seconds he replaces the 100 rupee note with another 10 rupee note and tells me that I have given him only 20 rupees, am Shocked and I say NO, I gave you a 100 & a 10 rupee note for which he holds his neck, similar to taking a oath and says ‘amma promise sirrr’ ….traffic piling, horns blaring, loneliness for company I am forced to shell a new 100 rupee note and he says thanks and leaves maybe to have a drink courtesy me. And as I walk in I count the money left in my purse to obviously notice that I have been cheated as I had taken a fixed amount from the ATM during the day, maybe that’s the egXtra charge for riding in a supersonic craft without seatbelts with a locally trained pilot.
UPDATE : My fate made me meet the same auto guy on 29th November 2007 and he attempted the same trick, his name on the display board is CHETAN D hes thin, dark and speak a bit of tamil too, sits on the left corner of the seat and is a very rash driver...beware of him.