Dear average Bangalore auto-wallah,
I decide to write to you after months of having my throat go dry yelling at you, but, sadly, with no effect. The frustrated middle class commoner in me has to pour out her frustration, and hence this letter. Here, I generalize, based on my experiences with your brethren in the past one year or so. My apologies to the minuscule proportion of auto-wallahs in Bangalore who do not fall into the category I mention in my letter.
Firstly, it is amazing how you make me cuss and pray – all in the same breath. I don’t think anyone has ever made me feel like you do. I’m a normally calm and quiet person, you know, and to make me swear itself is a big thing, as my colleagues and friends will tell you. But you just take my patience to the extreme limits.
When I request you to drop me at a particular destination, I at least have a vague idea of how far that place is. You don’t have to Einstein-ically tell me that you need double or 1-1/2 times the fare, because the place is very far away. That’s what I’m ready to pay you by the meter for. And don’t even get me started about that meter of yours – I’d be happy to pay the fare that your meter indicates, if it is untampered and does not speed at the rate of a cheetah speeding away towards its prey. And I just do not understand the concept of paying you 1-1/2 times the normal fare just because it is past 7 PM or just because you will not get another customer on the way back from my destination!
When I ask you if you are willing to drop me at a certain place, I expect a courteous answer saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. It drives me nuts when you just drive away without an answer, when you don’t want to. Come on, that’s boorish manners!
I do not expect five-star quality seats and ambience in your vehicle. I’d be happy with just a neat and clean vehicle. I do NOT like being the centre of attraction on the road with me being highlighted in the fluorescent green of your light. I don’t mind music – in fact, I’d prefer ANY soft music that’s not too loud – but it does bother me when you play dhinchak songs on the blare, at a volume that’s a sure shot way to send my eardrums all the way to hell. And I do expect you to turn down the volume when I ask you to, without giving me a look like you’ll eat me raw.
It goes without saying that I want all bumps and pits to be avoided. I don’t want to be holding the sidebar with one hand and clutching my neck with the other, when I’m flying ala Harry Potter, as you go cruising over a bump. I love all my extremities, though they are a mite chubby, and don’t want to lose any of them. Neither do I have the craving for adventure sports. Please, please drive like an auto driver and not like an F1 racer.
And, of course, I hate it when you are glued to the phone and bellow your guts out, so much so that other passengers on the road turn to give me strange looks. I hate it all the more when you miss a couple of turns because you’re busing talking on the phone. Saying ‘Sorry, madam’ does not take away the sting.
I do not want to go on a full-speed Bangalore Darshan. When I board an auto, I want to reach somewhere on time and a bit comfortably. I’d love it if you took the route I tell you to, and not tell me ‘Udhar traffic jam hai, madam. Aapko office ke liye late ho jayega!’ Let me worry about that. I’d rather be late than Late.
I do not understand why I should just give you a Rs. 5 tip over the already high fares because of the tampered meter. I don’t appreciate being told that I should, because all ‘software company employees’ do the same. I would happily give you a tip if you gave me value for money, a pleasant drive and honesty. And, yes, I do expect change to be returned.
If you are sloshed completely, to the extent that you are twitching and your eyes are RED, or you are smoking so much that the entire vehicle stinks, I have the right to refuse to sit in your auto. I’d be happy if you don’t pester me to come with you.
At least 25% of my stress levels can be attributed to you, and I’d really appreciate it if you’d help me cut it down. I’m not too fond of high BP or ulcers, so please don’t give them to me. Often times, I take an auto not because I want to, but because I have to – because I don’t have an option. Let it be a good experience for both of us.
I’ve had enough of people telling me – Why don’t you take a bus? These auto-wallahs are so pesky. I would, if I could. Sometimes there are a lot of factors which make me choose an auto ride over a bus ride. I cannot stop using autos just because you are pesky. I cannot close my eyes to your behavior also. It’s a disgrace to your clan if I gape openmouthed at the angelic auto driver who returns Re. 1 when the fare comes to Rs. 49 and I give him a Rs. 50 note, avoids all pits and drives so smoothly that I can’t feel a single jerk. I’d like you to become that angel.
Yours mentally tired and frustrated average Bangalore citizen