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Fun In Traffic

Posted by anandrr on December 9, 2007

auto rickshaw

This one time I returned from Chennai quite late, around 10:30 pm. Not wanting to risk walking home as I would have if it were a more reasonable time, I decided to take the pre-paid auto home. Unlike other pre-paid services however, this is not one that you pay for in advance. At Bangalore airport, a pre-paid auto is one where you have a cop regulating who gets into which auto and ensures that there is no pre-auto haggling. The assumption is that the rickshaw driver turns on his meter and you pay whatever shows up on his meter. My turn at the rickshaw stand produced an auto, I hopped in and off we went. Needless to say, after we were out of sight of the cop, the rickshaw driver turned to me and said, “you’ll pay me Rs 50, yeah?” Of course I wouldn’t. “Turn on the meter,” I ordered. He looked at me, glared and grudgingly turned on the meter. About 1.5 km away from the airport, he turned around again and said, “but you’ll pay me 1.5x the meter, yeah?” Normally I might have agreed, it was late after all. But in this case, I noticed that the meter had already started ticking past its minimum. The meter minimum is supposed to last 2 km. This annoyed me, and I refused to pay him anything more than the meter. This was too much for the rickshaw driver, and he refused to take me any further. But you’ve got to, it’s a pre-paid auto I reminded him. “Oh,” he replied, “I’ll take you right back to the pre-paid auto stand.” “Very good,” I replied. So he turns the auto around, and back we go to the airport. On the way, he tries to take a rash right turn. We almost die as a huge Tata Sumo barrels into us. Somehow we escape with mere scrapes on the auto. He drives up to the pre-paid auto stand and complains to the cop that I’m not paying him his 1.5x meter. The cop looks at me like I’m an alien being and orders me to pay the 1.5x. “Didn’t you notice that we’re past 10pm,” he asks. I immediately agree to pay 1.5x meter. Now of course the faulty meter has been running all along, and we’re now at Rs25. So I tell the auto driver to reset the meter. He can’t take this any more. It was my fault that he had to come all the way back, how dare I try to shortchange him now. But you’re the one who almost killed me in that scrape with an SUV, I protest. We squabble some more, and now the cop takes a personal interest in us. But much to the driver’s horror, he now sides with me. “Reset the meter,” he orders, “the gentleman has agrees to your 1.5x demand!” With much grumbling, the driver resets the meter, we drive home, I refuse to let him drive me all the way home, lest he see where I live, his meter of course has ticked up all the way to Rs 25 (where a real meter should really be around Rs 16), I pay him his Rs38, we glare at each other, and I walk home.

 The cruel irony in all this is all pervasive in India. I had just returned from a trip to Chennai where between the airfare and the hotel, I had spent a total of Rs 10,000. And here I was haggling over Rs10.


One Response to “Fun In Traffic”

  1. Leonidas said

    this is India, almost same incidence hapened with me and i almost ended up fighting with that auto guy :(


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