Wednesday, December 16, 2009

10 Rupees Extra, Madam

Everyone hates Bengaluru traffic. To be fair, it is wall to wall, apalling, loud, cranky, disorganised, stuffy, dangerous, time consuming, heart rate increasing, traffic policeman hating and dangerous fume releasing; all at the same time. Especially for a person like me who travels mostly in autos, my mind can't stop reverting back to those pictures of charred lungs that one finds behind the box of a 'Gold Flake' cigarette pack.

But you know what we've always liked about Bangalore, especially compared to Madras; the auto rikshaw drivers run according to their meter. Rs. 14 for the first 2 kilometers and an added Rs. 7 for every extra one there onwards. That's fair. Sure, you've got to pay extra when it's really late at night or really early in the morning, but we can deal with that.

Somewhere down the line, a Madras auto driver came to Bangalore, found a Bangalorean auto driver and said "Dai! Meter aa? THOO!". And then it dawned upon the Bangalore auto drivers that they could fleece us blind when the time is right.

The aforementioned fleecing started with a request of "10 rupees extra, madam" when it came to long distances. This, we didn't mind so much as it was better than the "Hrmph!", followed by the quick driving off. You see, Bangalore auto drivers are very picky about where they want to go. They look at prospective customers and evaluate their area-request depending on their agenda. If it's somewhere in the vicinity but not close enough, they pause for 4 and a half seconds, shake their heads, and drive off. If it is completely out of the way, they look at you like you've just asked them to bring you a piece of moon rock, scowl, grunt and drive away very fast. I used to feel bad the first few times for offending them so. But afterwards I decided that I was the offendee and not the offender.

Tying in to the topic of raised fares, the auto drivers, after their Madras influence, have decided that it isn't enough just to make offensive gestures at those who don't want to go where you want to take them. Their new tactic is to ask for an astounding amount of money. For example, I wanted to return home from a mall close by. The distance is exactly 1.3 KM, give or take a few meters. The driver who didn't really want to take me there asked me for Rs. 80. I thought that Rs. 18 was a strange but reasonable request, until he said "eiiiiiiiiight... jirooooooo, eightyyyyyyy". That's when I decided to walk.

So while there is still a lot of fluctuation between the extremes i.e. honest guys running on the meter and crazy guys charging you outlandish rates; I think I'll settle for the moderate guys. A compromise of sorts, for "10 Rupees extra, madam!"


  1. This is how I feel exactly. Super observation.

  2. auto karan auto karan is a rare breed of species beyond repair....

  3. A very apt and a funny read.
    *Thumbs up*

  4. sharanyaa this was good! check this truly suits ur post

  5. I have another kind of experience. I land up with the guys who do not understand Hindi or Tamil. They are invariably Kannadigas from the suburbs so I ask for a place to be dropped and he nods in agreement and then the whirlwind tour starts. I protest vehemently when he goes through some strange roads, but then he says that was the place I asked for. I start all over again from that place to my destination. Phew! Thank goodness, I have found a way now, or should I say my way?