Woes auto-mated!

I was looking through some older posts and found this 2-part series I had written about the experience of traveling by the BMTC bus during my initial blogging days.
I chuckled reminiscing about the days when I was a regular on the BMTC circuit 😀

Speaking of travel experiences and transport woes, I am sure all of us have a big bone to pick with the auto-drivers of Bangalore – now made more famous for their notoriety after the recent hike in prices! I can say that they have never failed to amaze/ amuse/ disgust/ dismay/ enrage me depending on the responses I have received on various occasions. Listed are some characteristic features of specimens from a variety of breeds:

* The I-like-cooling-my-heels breed – these drivers dutifully get their autos to the neighborhood auto-stand everyday in the morning, but they prefer to be part of the local scenery most of the time. You can try walking up to them and asking if they can ferry you to any place, ranging from difficult-to-commute-areas at the other end of the town to the nearby-but-not-walkable supermarket you wanna go to; their steadfast answer remains a firm “No”. No sir, you’re not entitled to know the reasons there-of; if they prefer to give their autos and themselves a rest, then so be it!

* The I-shall-pretend-you-don’t-exist breed – these drivers will scout, dig you out from a crowd on a busy main street and hound you every step till you stop in your tracks; but the moment the destination is uttered from your mouth, they behave like they can see through you or turn their faces and drive on like you never existed!

* The I-shall-fleece-you-for-short-distances breed – the latest fad of course – the meter showing a minimum amount for the initial 2 kilometers is apparently supposed to be an object of display, enriching the interior decoration of the vehicle – the rate for your travel gets decided by the driver as he pleases, on an ad-hoc basis. How else can one explain the demand for Rs.20 – 30 for distances as short as 1.5 – 2 kms? After all, if you expect the auto-driver to do you a favour by driving you the short distance by giving up his other prospective long-distance customers, you should be ready to part with a few extra bucks for him to make up that loss! Makes perfect sense, of course!

* The I-shall-fleece-you-for-longer-distances-too breed – this sect of drivers are close-knit brethren of the above mentioned kind. They apply the same principles and follow the same philosophy, albeit for slightly longer distance travels. They begin the conversation by informing you that an additional Rs.15 – 20 above the meter fare has to be paid for your travel, irrespective of the time of the day or the area you want to go to. The all-explaining reason (yes, there is one offered in this case) is that the auto driver has to compensate for his loneliness, as he will have to drive back alone from the destination (poor fella, one has no choice but to sympathize with him!). Apparently people in those parts of town aren’t too keen on traveling or haven’t heard of this highly convenient mode-of-transport, is all one can suppose.

These are just some namunas that I have had to haggle with. I’m sure we can come up with our own stories. But all that we’ll be doing is venting out our frustration at the auto-driver-community in general. While we complain and rant about the sour experiences we have had, we conveniently forget those drivers who have actually been nice to us on some occasions. Though rare and rather difficult to find, there do exist a select clan of mostly old-time drivers in Bangalore who are probably ruing the turn of events as much as we are. Thanks to the errant and dismal behaviour of the newer breed, these well-meaning and well-serving drivers are also subjected to brickbats.

One of the primary reasons quoted for such atrocious behavior (as told to me by one such courteous and straight-forward driver in whose auto I happened to travel last week), is the lack of proper documents and license among the newer set of drivers. Being in possession of fake/ invalid documents and having an adjustment by sweet-talking the cops of some particular areas – paying them a regular hafta, it’s no wonder that these drivers don’t prefer to venture out into other areas for the fear of being caught and fined. So does this mean that a stricter regulation of the granting of auto licenses by the RTO can reduce this auto-driver-menace in the city? Only a crack-down by the authorities and an actual implementation of such strict rules can possibly bring about a change; but sadly the situation doesn’t look too promising at the moment.


4 thoughts on “Woes auto-mated!

  1. One trick I have tried is just get in to the auto and tell him where you want to go. If he doesnt agree, then just ask him to go nearby traffic police and he’ll be come back to his senses and most of them dont carry proper documents and are very afraid of police. Some time last year, the traffic police came out with a list of telephone numbers where you can complain about auto drivers. I happily stored all the numbers on my cell and was very excited to call. One day, I got a chance to call, guess what! None of the THREE numbers works or crashed due to high call density 😉

  2. Hey there, was following links to my blog and landed here… Surprised I haven’t been here before. This is my kinda blog… Glad I found it now…

    Reminds me of an encounter with an auto-driver in Bangalore many moons ago…

    Unfortunately, not too many pleasant experiences with auto-drivers in Bangalore…. Unlike Mumbai, where the cabbies are a cheerful, talkative lot…

  3. [Arun] – ha ha, that is a good idea, should try that sometime 🙂 Yeah, I know, that’s what happens with most of the people-friendly schemes that the govt. comes up with these days!

    [Atticus] – hey, I am thrilled to have you here! 🙂 I have been a silent reader of your blog for quite some time now…needless to say, your writing is fantastic, effortless; I really like the sensitivity you bring to your posts. Am glad that you liked my blog 🙂

    Yes, the Mumbai cabbies are a different set altogether – much more honest and straight forward in their dealings with customers.

  4. i travelled just once and that was between majestic and banashankari and that was 8 years back. and that bus something called as puspakk and there were just a few people on the bus…an ajji and her dauhter and the ajji was cribbing about her daughtie in law…and a gurl who seemed very conscious of her appearance and a few middle aged men with good-meesey who seemed disinterested in everything except the headlines on newspapers and the some stock prices. it was such a pleasant journey and so boring too. banshankari looks like it light years away from bengalooru. i might have spent rs8.50 and that was worth it…

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