Thursday, February 24, 2005

Automaton - 2

The second in my Delhi auto-walla series:

So, there we are, on Teen Murti Road, looking for an auto to take us to Mughal Gardens, at the President's estate. It couldn't have been more than a couple of kilometres, and no auto-walla was willing to take us by the meter.

One saggy-jowled fellow finally agreed to take us for 20 rupees "Meter isn't working, madam."

It wasn't fair, but he was asking for only 10 percent more than the metre fare wouldn've been, and we weren't in the mood to haggle, so we hopped on.

Near the Parliament, he stopped and said he could go no further. The auto wasn't allowed further, he claimed.

Before I paid him off, I mentioned to him that he should get his meter fixed.

Pocketing the money I'd just handed over, he grinned a charming grin, "Where's the point, madam? I not going to do this long. In fifteen days, I'll be driving an Indica."

I suddenly regretted having paid him his ten percent marked-up fare.

And now, of course, I am furious because once we began to walk to Mughal Garden, we walked and walked and walked. And (huff, puff) walked, all the way round the central secretariat, and some five circuitous kilometres later, to Mughal Gardens.

There, all the autos our tired ankles desired were lined up, right outside.
And to think the auto-walla is driving his own Indica by now...


Morquendi said...

Having backpacked through all the major cities in India excepting Cal, mostly on my own and heavily dependent on autos for city travelling, those buggers in Delhi are the worst.

The guys in Bangalore are the nicest. They flip the meter on without having to be asked...and off you go. Uncomplicated.

The guys in Chennai ask for too much and if you try to argue they give you the finger and drive off cursing. Uncomplicated.

The Delhi guys promise you the earth to get you into their auto and they rip you off so smooth that you only realise a few days later...

at which point you kick yourself for having given them a tip for being nice...

Janaki said...

tell me about it. when i think of autos of good ol dilli.. only think of the inevitable haggle..
among the other lovely memories :)

while getting into a rick in mumbai i almost told "bhaiyya.. meter se jayenge na?" (You will follow the meter na?) of course I curbed my impulse in time.

1conoclast said...

ever tried the rickshaw-wallas in Bombay? The best!
Bangalore autos I remember, insist on charging you "half-return" by the time it's 9 PM!
And they won't go by meter if you want to go from Corporation to Airport Road/Kempfort.
Unless things are different now...

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