Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Autos and I

Autodrivers – what is it with them ALWAYS making us haggle? Delhi/Noida autos will simply not move according to meters. They’ll quote some ridiculously high price…don’t know what they think when they say that – perhaps they assume we don’t live here and are fools…and will expect you to jump in! Then you rebuke him and what follows is a battle of wits and the question of who gives in first…who’s quoted price wins the race…

I guess the permit issue between Delhi and Noida makes them wary but sometimes works to their advantage as well – since people like me who’re not too fond of buses or taxis (two opposite ends as far as I’m concerned) always resort to autos and eventually have to give in to their demands at some point. Auto-wallahs are also extremely unionized…so if you don’t agree to the price quoted by one, none of the others will go either! That really cheeses me off!

The other day, I was to go for a wedding and this auto-man simply refused to go to Delhi (from Noida) unless I paid him Rs 250 (the usual rate on the route would be not more than Rs 150)…I obviously refused and the man was so adamant, I wanted to report him to the police or something. There should be some kind of rule against asking for ridiculous amounts of money and some redressal measures. Anyway, I refused to go with the man, so all his fellowmen refused to take me anywhere. Don’t know what struck me at that moment and I called a colleague to find out what time he’s leaving from office…luckily he was leaving soon enough for me and I hopped into his car – cursing the auto-wallahs!

Then there are those auto-wallahs who will for some reason make it a point to stop at the CNG station only when I’m in a terrible rush! It’s happened with me way too many times. Once I was on my way to office from Lajpat Nagar (was already running very late) and the man insisted he has to get CNG…and God save you from the queues at CNG stations…took a full 15 minutes and a lot of grumbling at my end to get it over with.

I’ve had a few good experiences with them as well. Once I was traveling from Nizamuddin station to my Jhandewalan office. At a red light, a man in orange robes, with a snake wrapped around his neck came asking for money. Now I’m petrified of snakes…tried refusing twice but the man insisted (that’s his job) and just kept getting the slimy creature closer…so I started digging into my purse for coins…the auto-driver then screamed at the snake man and at that moment the light turned green and zoom went my auto-man…. my coins still in my hand. He then severely reprimanded me for encouraging the snake-man. I tried to explain that I don’t pity the man or approve of his begging…I know it’s all a farce…but I just didn’t want the snake anywhere close to me. Of course the auto-man didn’t listen to one word of mine and went on scolding me…he was a kind, old man…said – “aap toh padhe likhe log hain…aapko toh kam se kam aisa nahin karna chahiye”…finally, all I could offer was a nod and a sheepish grin in return! And on reaching Jhandewalan I said ‘thank you’ (not just for driving sanely)…I always thank them – especially the ones who quote reasonable prices, don’t make me haggle, drive sanely and don’t talk incessantly!

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