Can’t live with them, Can’t Kill them! Thats the one line which most aptly describes the ubiquitous autorickshaw driver of Bangalore (note: the autowallahs are the same in all the cities of India, but since I am in Bangalore – or the newer “Bengaluru” as of now, I criticize the Bangalore autos – but then it applies in equal mesure to any other city in this great country)
These pesky creatures are found everywhere and one of the principal reasons of bad traffic on the roads. They can cut you off from any which side, they please.
…And their vehicles – the three wheeled wonder – can at best be compared to a cat. It is said that if a cat can pass its head through a gap, then it can manage to get the rest of its body through it. It is the same with these auto wallahs. If the front wheel of the auto can find a gap between two vehicles, somehow — just somehow — te rest of the vehicle will pass through thatgap, even if it throws the entire traffic out of gear.
Bad driving is not the end….then comes the fare. None of these buggers want to go by the fare meter. and if they see you stepping out of a mall with a couple of bags…. you are finished!
They just wont even think before opening their big dirty mouths and demanding 2 and even three times the fare.
Last night I was at the Forum Mall here In bangalore. Fairly classy i’d say and overly crowded because there are very less places like this where people would like to hang out.
When I came out with family in tow, it was 9:30 and my house is exactly 7 kms away. So at the standard rate of Rs. 5/km, My fare amounts to only Rs. 35. But the moment you ask these auto wallahs, pat comes the reply “One & Half” – which means that the guy wants 50% more over and above the fare meter. WHich means that if the actual fare is only Rs. 35, you would be required to shell out Rs. 53.00. And that too at 9:30 pm??? Actually the night fare starts off after 10:00 pm where this 1 & 1/2 deal works fine. But not before.
They ask, just because they think ok if you can afford shopping at a mall, let me also make some money out of you – how lowly — but then that is tha class they have grownup and lived their life – cannot expect any better from them. Checked out atleast 10 of them but in vain… all wanted to skim skim skim.
Then one guy came forward and gave me some sort of a discount, he agreed to ferry me and my family for 10 bucks extra – this was also not the right thing to do but then emotional blackmail is the name of the game, and these guys know that the customer needs to get home and after some time will crumble and give in to their insane demands. Thats exactly what happend. Compared to the One and Half Deal – Extra 10 bucks looked doable. So din have a choice but boarded that auto – much to the chargin of the other;s who had asked for one and half. Highly condemnable and this will stay this way, until education penetrates to the lowest of the low levels in the society – which in turn doesnt seem to happen in the next 20 thousand years – so no point cribbing.
There is another practice, which is a real put off – this I have never faced in the north but almost always down south – and mostly in Bangalore. The autowallahs expect to be tipped everytime! – hey you have a fare meter and you have been paid what it shows, then why the tip? End of the day, you drive a rickety auto and not a comfy limousine! They just dont want to return balance change! It is not a question of how much – 5-10 bucks dont matter to most people – but then why at all ????? That is the question.
There needs to be a regulatory body – on similar lines as it was started a couple of years back in New Delhi- a phone number, where commuters could log complaints and action was taken. I must say that most autowallahs were very scared when commuters said they will complain – becoz action was immediate and that regulated the travelling a lot! Hope something similar happens here – to make the lives of commuters easy!