Auto rickshaws or “autos” or “rickshaws” as we call them in Kudla are an important part of our lives. Some of us have a love-hate relationship with them. Some of us complain bitterly that they don’t return the change, over speed, overcharge, and overhear every word spoken on the passenger seat. Having said all that, I have to say that the city cannot survive without them and many of them are really nice guys.
I would like to share a few amusing experiences I have had with auto drivers.
Experience #1 – Forgot to Turn on the Meter
I hailed an auto and asked to be taken to Light House Hill Road. After a few moments on the way, I noticed that he had not turned on the meter and pointed it out to him. “Your meter,” I said. “You haven’t turned on your meter.”
He said, “Eh? Ah!” and turned it on. When we reached our destination, I handed over Rs. 25 because that’s what the meter was showing. But he said that I had to pay him Rs. 27. Surprised, I demanded an explanation. “That’s because I turned on the meter late,” he said. “If I had turned on the meter right at the beginning, it would have been Rs. 27.” Of course, I didn’t agree, but didn’t want to waste the next 20 minutes arguing with him just to save Rs. 2. So I just paid up.
Experience #2 – Vanishing Act
I hailed an auto and asked to be taken to Mallikatte. When we reached there, the meter showed Rs. 37. I gave him four ten-rupee notes, which he shoved in his pocket. He then started the auto and shot off at top speed before I could say “three rupees.”
Experience #3 – No Change
I hailed an auto and asked to be taken to Central Market. When we got there, the meter showed Rs. 39. I gave him Rs. 50 and waited for my change. After searching through bundles of notes, he finally found a ten-rupee note and handed it over to me. I watched him with interest as he searched for a one-rupee coin. I knew what was going to come and I guessed right. He gave me a sheepish smile and said, “Chillare ijjiye (I have no change.)” I told him it was perfectly alright and he drove off with a bright smile on his face.
Experience #4 – The Advisor
I did some shopping near Ideals Ice Cream Parlour and walked up to the rickshaw stand under the peepal tree. “State Bank bus stand,” I told the driver who was first in line. He stared at me for a long time and said, “State Bank? What do you need an auto for? Can’t you take a bus?” Oh, wow! Here was my big brother telling me what to do!
Experience #5 – The Chatty Type
I have come across a number of chatty drivers. These are nice guys who talk to you continuously as they take you to your destination. They usually complain about the pathetic condition of the roads in Mangalore, the heavy traffic, and their views about the traffic police. They relate their experiences with people who do not know how to drive and park their vehicles. They voice their opinions of certain passengers who are such pittasis (misers) that they fight for hours with poor rickshaw drivers for change. One of these chatty drivers once told me, “They are willing to spend hundreds of rupees at the cinema, but they won’t give even one rupee extra to a poor auto driver and I really did not have the change that day.”
Experience #6 – The Onjare Aapund Type
This list will be incomplete if I don’t talk about the “onjare aapund (one-and-a-half aagutte)” type of rickshaw drivers. They usually ply their auto rickshaws on the outskirts of the city, and by outskirts, I mean some 8 – 10kms from the city. They never turn on their meters and charge you as they wish. If you want them to take you into the city, they will say that they will turn on the meter, but will charge you one-and-a-half times the amount shown on the meter.
Experience #7 – The Helpful Type
I have met many auto drivers who have been of great help to me when I did not know the way to a destination. They did not allow me to get out of the auto till they found the correct destination. Some of them were even willing to wait for me till I finished whatever work I had to do at the destination.
Experience #8 – Free Rides
I even got some free rides! Why, I got a free ride just recently. I told him that I wanted to go to Navabharat Circle and he agreed, but after a kilometer, he realized that he would have to take a big round to reach Navabharat Circle. He said, “Madam, I will leave you at the signal because I will have to take a big round and you will have to pay me extra. You will easily get an auto at the signal and save some money.” And it was really a free ride. He did not accept a single rupee.
Here are some tips to deal with auto drivers in Mangalore:
- If you are near an auto rickshaw stand, don’t try to stop autos that are passing by. They won’t stop for you. If they dare to stop for you, they will be mauled by the drivers at the stand. You have to walk up to the stand and hire the first one there.
- Never argue with an auto rickshaw driver. They are very good at math and they are always right. I daresay there are a few of us who can defeat a rickshaw driver in a debate, but I am yet to meet him/her.
- While hiring an auto driver, tell him where you want to go and get in only when he nods his head. Don’t get in first and then tell him your destination. If he doesn’t want to take you there, you will have to take the trouble of getting out again.
- Don’t discuss personal issues with your companion inside an auto. Just enjoy the ride in silence or talk to the driver.
If you have any more tips to add, you can do so in the comments. 🙂