Autowale ki dadagiri nahin chalegi nahin chalegi

Inspired by Lage Raho if there is one thing that I want to do then its boycott autorickshaws.

For the uninitiated I have put up a pic of this vehicle. Its a very common sight and mode of transport in Indian towns and cities. Its one of the means to get to one's destination faster than a car or bus but not as fast as a two wheeler of course. These mean machines zip through roads like nobody's business braking or fully stopping wherever and whenever they feel like or for a passenger.

My dad has a very interesting observation about why an auto goes faster than a car. The auto as is evident from the picture does not have a steering wheel but a handlebar like a two wheeler. It has one wheel in the front and two at the back. So my dad feels that since the driver is gripping a handle bar and sees only one wheel in front he thinks two-dimensional (like a scooter rider). The third dimension i.e. the width of the vehicle never occurs to him. So he easily wields the handle and manipulates his way through the densest traffic without any concern for the aghast faces or squealing brakes around him. In fact in some cities like Pune auto drivers judiciously pull the rear view mirrors inwards into the vehicle. To prevent other errant (tch tch) drivers from damaging the mirrors? This leads to more adventure in terms of the driver not bothering to look out for those behind his auto when he is changing lanes .

Coming back to the topic of my dissent towards autos. Its because of the way they charge for their service. The official way of doing this is by using the meters fitted on every rickshaw which charge by the kilometer. But these days the drivers just charge a flat rate for a particular distance. Or they put on the meter and ask for one and half the value shown on the meter. They are all pretty united about this stance so it’s very tough to get an honest to meter driver these days! The bullies just fleece the “hapless” passenger who agrees to pay the demanded price because he wants to get to his destination in time and in style. (Yes taking bus vs taking an auto means a lot in social status around here). Its like taking a cab vs taking the local train or bus in other parts of the world. The root to this problem is also us the passengers. We just started giving in to the bullying when we should have stood up and fought for our transport rights. We puffed up the auto driver with so much ego that now he decides where he wants to go and you can hop in if you are headed in the same direction! He will stop when you signal to him, listen to your choice of destination and then nod yes or ignore and drive ahead depending on the condition I pointed out in the previous statement. And after you settle in, he either states the price or puts on the meter and announces “one and half”. By then you have pictured yourself arriving in an auto so you give in. A few strong ones will even argue and jump off if they dont get a good bargain on the price.
Today I want to light the lamp of freedom in the hearts of all auto passengers. Freedom from tyranny and bullying. I want to not take an autorickshaw till it takes me to my destination on the price shown in the meter. I don’t know how many people will be willing to risk not being able to have a easily obtainable mode of transport but I am sure if we all gang up as one and not give in to the weakness of convenience we can enable these bullies to learn to be sincere towards their work.
Its time for me to leave. Let me go and see if I can get an auto on my terms else am sure I will be meeting my friends late ;)

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