Vibrant World of Autorickshaw Characters

Aug 17, 2010

For those of us who are used to traveling in an autorickshaw, we all must have felt a myriad of emotions while dealing with auto drivers at different times. The autorickshaw serves as the perfect vehicle for transport for those who cannot afford a vehicle of their own and yet long to avoid the mad rush of trains and buses. However, not all interactions/experiences with an auto driver go as per our desire.

Given below is a compilation of five types of auto drivers that you would definitely not want to meet on any given day, especially during the monsoon season. The intention here is to look at these situations that we all experience with a dose of humour. I am sure the readers would be able to relate to these characters.

First, the Interviewer: A typical conversation with him will go like this:

You: bhaisab Goregaon jaoge?
Driver: East ya West
You: East
Driver: Station ya Gokuldham?
You: Station
Driver: Kidhar se jaoge, Link Road ya Aarey Colony?
You: Aarey
Driver: Kyun……Aarey ka rasta kharab hai…

The conversation with him continues like this and even after answering his seemingly endless series of questions he may refuse to ferry you if he is not satisfied with all your answers.

Second, the Refuser: Imagine a scenario. At 8.30 in the morning there are four to five people waiting for an auto, eager to pounce on any empty one that comes their way.

Exactly at that juncture an empty auto emerges, much to the excitement of the waiting group.

First person (with hope and enthusiasm in his voice): Seepz…….
Auto driver: Flashes a smile and says ‘Nahi, Seepz nahi jayenge’

The second person feels that this is his divine opportunity and screams with ecstasy: Kanjurmarg!

But his joy is also short-lived as the driver refuses him as well.

In this way the driver refuses everyone, irrespective of the direction and distance of the journey. At the end of it all one is left to wonder whether the auto driver intended to ferry passengers at all or was he out on a joy ride all by himself?

Third, the ‘Move on Guy’: He is a refuser with a difference. Typically when he approaches a customer he slows down his auto and gives the impression that he is keen to take you to your destination.

But the moment you spell out your desired location, he simply turns his shoulder, picks up speed and goes away. Just like that, no verbal refusal, nothing.

If you are new to the city you may feel that you have unintentionally uttered a word that has a very grave consequence in the local language. In fact, the word is so bad that the driver, in all his wisdom, decides that it should be downright ignored in the best interest of mankind. But as you gradually get used to the city you will realize that it is just a special way that the auto driver uses to refuse the passenger.
Fourth, the Chatter Box: He is the over-enthusiastic and over-friendly driver you are likely to meet on your way home on a day when you are particularly tired and intend to take a nap during the ride back home.

The topic can be anything: from Rahul Gandhi’s adventure in Mumbai locals to the driver’s heroics in Aarey Colony (where he must have tamed a few demons at the dead of night) or may be his own son’s stupendous performance in college.

Whatever may be the issue you can be rest assured that you will not have any of your coveted sleep all the way home.

Fifth, the ‘Engaged’: It is not enough to find an empty auto, it is equally important that it happens to be ‘single’ if you want to harbour any hope of catching it.

It may so happen that during a spell of monsoon you might get drenched from top to bottom but an auto that has parked itself right in front of you simply refuses to acknowledge your existence. The official reason being that the driver is already ‘engaged’ to a customer who may come any time soon.

You would wait for more than an hour in that rain but this driver will not budge an inch as he remains firmly committed to that elusive customer. As you make some alternate arrangement to go back home you are left wondering how the divorce lawyers would have felt if married couples had shown even half the commitment that this driver displayed.

So - which kind of autorickshaw driver did you meet today?

Robin Almeida - Archives:

by Robin Dyson Almeida
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Comment on this article

  • L.Fernandes, goa/mumbai

    Fri, Aug 20 2010

    The problem arose of auto hiking when the fares were hiked and they hiked the passengers by refusing to go to their destination.Moreover,when engaging the auto,sit in the auto and than direct the driver to your destination.The new fare table should be displayed in front of the passenger seat.The meter lamp should be in working order at night so also the headlights and tail lights.They have SMS complain to RTO as most of us carry cell/mobiles must complain immediately and show the message to the driver who refused the fare.I even complemented a driver last week from Goregaon West Station to Malad Marve Road,about his spotless white attire and even his hair cut..who was in his late 40s.and cleanliness of his auto.
    From station to the destination,six seater share an auto should be introduced or mini buses by BEST in Mumbai. With metros coming in two years,people in the interior will need of autos.In 60s and 70s,we use to hire cab (the office goers)and than take the contribution from each passenger who lived in our area and regular travellers.

  • Neha Mithbawkar, Thane

    Wed, Aug 18 2010

    Hi Rob..I ve come across all of the above. In fact you can add many more types..Very well written though!! :)

  • George Lobo,

    Tue, Aug 17 2010

    If you want a true picture of Mangalore rickshaw drivers you have to be at the railway station, pumpwell circle or jyoti circle just arriving from out of town early in the morning!

  • Dinesh, Mangalore/USA

    Tue, Aug 17 2010

    Last year, in Chennai, I came out of City Centre with my friend. We knew autorickshaws rip off if we took it from right there. So, we walked 100 m, and took the next auto.

    This guy (in Tamil): Sir, do you speak Tamil?
    I (in Tamil): If you write it down, I can read (true).

    He laughed heartily and proceeded to give us a lot of advice on how to retire, where to invest money, how to arrange kids' marriage etc. He said had a full-time job, his kids were in America, and this was just a hobby! He left us in front of Stella Maris and said, "Sir, cross the road here. I have to make a U-turn, it is another 2 km, it will cost you another Rs 20."

  • f.l.fernandis, Bangalore/Detroit

    Tue, Aug 17 2010

    Nice article.Thank you Mr Almeida.I had met all the above types of auto drivers and there are still various types are also there.They are now and they will be there in future also.We can't avoid.We have to move on with this type of situation.
    If you are new to the place,if the driver comes to know,though the distance is 5kms away some how take the place covering the distance double or trible through different routes.One should use a lot of tricks to give exact cost.Still we can't avoid them.This situation will be there in India.Can't help.Life should be move on.

  • rudolf d'souza, mangalore/mumbai

    Tue, Aug 17 2010

    very good article.keepit up mr. richard

  • ivan, Mumbai

    Tue, Aug 17 2010

    Nice article Robbie!!!!!!... I liked the third scenario ‘Move on Guy’ ... I always encounter such drivers....

  • Ruchir Agarwal, mangalore

    Tue, Aug 17 2010

    The auto people in Mangalore in way are much better than the ones in other major cities like in Chennai and Bangalore.They are v smart and v easily find out by simple few question if we are a newcommer.Then a route of 1km is stretched to 10kms long.
    Anyway wonderfull article...also plz write an article on behaviot in city buses

  • Clara Lewis, Kemmannu/Dubai

    Tue, Aug 17 2010

    Very good article by Robin Almeida, I met all the five types of Auto drivers and met worst cheaters at Bangalore city than any other places, once they realise you are a visitor then they charge you 10 times more than the actual fare.

  • Anand, Karkala/Dubai

    Tue, Aug 17 2010

    I had gone though with all the above five types of auto drivers and exactly the same. There are some passengers just taking these drivers for a ride by time pass. There was a conversation like this,
    passenger: Andheri jaoge?
    driver: jayenge.
    passenger: post office road jaoge?
    driver: ji.
    passenger: post office jaoge?
    driver: ji.
    passenger: meral ek letter hai. post kar dena.

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