Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Auto-maton 5.

There are auto-rickshaws available right outside my office building. But I am resigned to a five-minute walk before I find one that uses the meter. I refuse, barring emergencies (or when a movie is about to begin in exactly 30 minutes), to haggle with drivers.

The drivers outside office have begun to recognize me: meter-wali sawari.... I am, to them, the passenger who cannot be wooed without a meter.

Everyday, they'd ask me 'Madam, kahaan?' (madam, where?)
And everyday, I'd say, "Kahin bhi... jahannum bhi jaaon, meter se chaloongi' (Wherever I go, even if I go to hell, I'll insist on the meter)

Often, I'd lose my cool. They would say 'But we're only asking for ten rupees more.'
I'd say, 'Would you accept five rupees less? Why should I lose ten rupees, then?'

Very deliberately, I would march off, sulkily, waiting for a driver who used the meter without a fuss.

Imagine my surprise when, the day I was struggling to haggle with rick-drivers at CP, an auto brakes to a halt barely inches from my toes. A grinning driver leaned out and invited me to sit inside, while switching on his meter with a flourish. The pock-marked face (is that politically incorrect? Not meant as insensitive, but merely a description), the tiny eyes and leathery skin were familiar. It was the same man who refused to use the meter everyday, outside the office.
I smiled and thanked him.

A few days later, I found myself similarly stuck, near Mandi House. And there was Mr Grinny-Marked Face, again to my rescue. Since then, he's become like my commute-knight. I see him and I know I won't have to haggle.

Last week, I hailed him, but he was busy chatting up a friend, over chai. Nevertheless, he took me to another auto-driver and sternly told the latter, "Daily ki sawari hain. Meter se...' (She's a daily passenger. Use the meter.)

On Saturday, I was forced to haggle again. It was late at night and Mr Grinny-Marked Face was nowhere to be seen. So, I argued, I marched off, I came back, I haggled. But ultimately, I gave in, taking the only auto available. Just as the auto swung away, I noticed a very visibly angry Mr Grinny-Marked Face stamping behind us.

And I am hoping that my commute-knight will give his biradari-brethren a sound verbal lashing on behalf of the 'daily ki sawari'.

Auto-maton 1, 2, 3, 4


Janaki said...

Oh send mr go-by-meter... to my office too.. between you and me he should get a full day of savari to all parts of delhi, eh?

Anonymous said...

A scenario I can so relate to.

Its nice to see someone who refuses to give in to the harassment by the autowalas of Delhi. My record on that front has been rather erratic, depending on the exigency and sometimes, my whim :-)

Vijayeta said...

Hello ji...Can u please SMS me yr no. As i lost all nos. from my phone. The auto deal sounds great :)
Visit my blog too sometime. I finally have one :)

Annie Zaidi said...

jaygee, will try asking him :D
debajit, i try
vej, will just hop over

Sumanth said...

Do you know, it is politically correct people who killed Jesus ?

S said...

nice. :)

Anonymous said...

please read the comments on your independence day post

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