If I could stand the auto drivers of Delhi and their menace, I thought I would have developed the stamina to fight seven wars. But, I was wrong; my experience with those in the city of gardens has made the “auto wala bhaiyah” of “saddi dilli” appear angelic to me!
Well, no one warned me a few things and I am learning them the hard way. For one, if I were ever to make a Bollywood movie on this city, the opening words shall be “mukaam tak jo rasta laata hai, woh ghar wapis nahi jaata hai” meaning “the path that takes you to a destination, does not take you back to your home”. The entire city is one-way. And yes, these are lanes and not roads. Even roads named “Main Road” look like a sub-lane in Delhi. Well, that is hardly any complaint against any city. That is the way it is built. But this is from where stems the entire problem.
If you are new to this place and try acting smart with google maps, you might succeed elsewhere, but how on earth would you know that you need to follow different routes – one to go and one to come back? And hence even if you try your level best to behave like a local, you will for sure give it away.
As a commuter, if are desperately looking for an auto rickshaw during office hours, either your car has broken down or your housemate has refused you a lift or you have missed the bus. The essence is that you are getting late. Try convincing some 7-8 auto drivers and a 9th one would agree. The moment you try to guide him through the shortest possible route, he is bound to discourage you on the pretext of a possible traffic jam. Try a bit harder and he would ask you for Rs 20-30 extra over the meter reading. Determined not to pay him the unfair amount, you decide to look for another rick.
Today in the morning, the 10th one luckily agreed to tread the same path as I was destined to – here follows an ordeal of 15 odd kilometres. Half way through the charge was already nearing the amount that I pay for the full distance. When I pointed it out to him, he started getting irritated and started shouting at me. I was running late already, hence decided to keep mum. I ensured that he took the shortest route, despite that his meter reading was 30% inflated than what it should have been. And after reaching the destination, the crook had the cheek to tell me that I wasted some good 45 mins of his day by making him travel so far, hence I should be rounding it off to the higher hundred that follows. When I tried to argue with him, he told me that it is because of people from other cities and especially from places like Delhi that Bangalore has traffic jams and hence we need to pay for it (another Raj Thackery in the making probably). I had already given him money and was expecting change from him, he refused to return that.
I should have taken that as a hint enough to judge his audacity and submitted, but me being me, I decided to put up a fight. And thus, he invited a few more from his clan and I was surrounded by four “dirty” men trying to tell me how it is justified for me, being an outsider to pay extra. The meter reading was not correct, he had taken me for a ride literally and he wanted to charge me extra for the traffic jam.
It is not a warm welcome but a heated welcome that the city gives you! The passers-by did stop by, to hear the tale, but in the local language and not from me.
Delhi cheats, Mumbai also cheats, Pune too, add Hyderabad also to the list and Chennai ignores you if you do not speak Tamil. But Bangalore, it gangs up.
I shall pray to God for the extinction of the auto rickshaws and successful completion of my project in this city soon!
PS: Do not come up with suggestions like why not complain to the cops, did you take a note of the auto number etc. I am trying to look at the root cause of the issue.