The Ringside View

My attempts at writing have always been stacked up in old diaries and scraps of yellowing paper.Time,neglect and phylum insecta however, always ensured that the gibberish i scrawled, never would see the prying gaze of an alien eye.Years later, i still scribble once in a while - this time in word documents stored in some obscure folder somewhere in the innards of my C drive.I am unearthing some of them and opening them up for the interested.To get what i call - The Ringside view.

My Photo
Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

And you thought they were extinct

‘Auto’, I waved half heartedly. And as luck would have it, he stopped. ‘Domlur barthera? (‘Will you come to Domlur?)’, I asked gingerly. And stared, mute concentration and all that, for the response to unfold. Now what we’re talking about is a complex discipline I tell you; what with half the time, the response not even being verbal. Though you are likely to have subtle variations, there are a few I have managed to comprehend over the times. There is the ‘you are the scum of the earth’ kinda feeling inducing change the gear and rocket away response (which in auto driver parlance is a dismissive no). Then there is the look the other way and pretend you did not hear anything thingy (which is non verbal for ‘f**k you’ I gathered). You can have variations to this of course, where yours truly could end up staring at the khaki clad devil incarnate continue with his article in the Prajavani or pick away at his ear with a match stick. You melt away as a non entity and wonder what you did wrong. You also have the Clint Eastwoodian smile of derision (which roughly translates to ‘you really thought I would come, ya?’). And not to forget the very cocky but confident – ‘Yelli Domlura. Shivajinagar hogthaidhni (Where Domlur? I am heading towards Shivajinagar)’. I didn’t ask you for a drop godammit.

So there I was asking ‘Domlur Barthera’ and waiting. The ginger bearded man in the driver’s seat looked bored. He let my words sink in slowly as his mind contemplated the decision. It almost looked as though his mind was a separate entity altogether of which he was no part whatsoever. But despite appearing non committal, he flicked on the meter (which in auto driver parlance is – ‘hop right in, you lucky bastard. You just caught me in the right mood’). Surprising how communicative body language can sometimes get.

The new age Bangalore auto rickshaw’s I gathered now have nameplates. And the ginger bearded man answered the call of Akbar. I sat there peering at his curriculum vitae as he weaved through the maddening traffic. Every column duly filled in – from residential address to driver’s license validity. The only column unfilled was blood group!!! Fill that in, I wanted to yell out for christsake. And put mine in as well. Especially considering the way he was riding.


Traffic had grinded to a halt. Some bloke in a huge SUV had obviously thought that lane discipline does not apply to him. And stuck now, like a rabbit in the spotlight, he was getting the choicest abuses from all and sundry. Akbar necked out, shook his head in frustration and rendered a few neat ones addressed at his lineage.


The morning daily had laid out a table reminiscent of the Clark’s logarithmic table from school time. The oil prices per gallon had sky rocketed; claimed the government. Why should it reflect in auto fare hikes; retorted the opposition. How complex is the conversion table; worried me. From the look of things, it looked fairly complex. And intricately mathematical. Further more, all new rates seemed to diabolically end at such numbers that you had very little chance of getting any change back. But amidst all my worrying, we had suddenly found this unhindered stretch of road which Akbar gleefully lapped up in Schumacherian style. I jumped off the auto, mentally preparing myself for that culminating act of any typical auto commute – a WTF haggling session with the unscrupulous villain. The meter was reading a healthy 25 rupees. I handed Akbar a 50 and waited. He took his time; slowly rummaged in his pocket and handed me the change. Two notes of ten and a fiver!!! ‘Rate jasti agilva? (Has the rate not increased?)’ I enquired in disbelief. ‘Table thagondila saar (have not got my copy of the table yet sir)’, he replied in gentlemanly nonchalance. Agreed, it’s not just the giant pandas and the Olive Ridley turtles, but also gentleman auto drivers that are a rapidly turning extinct specie. But there is the odd glimmer of hope. May his tribe increase.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I've ur interpreter installed in me for sometime pls..there are lots of responses that requires translation from time to And I guess God has his own way of balancing the see-saw of good n bad.

February 19, 2008 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had his thought so many times and it's a pleasure to see you reflect them here :-) 'you caught me in the right mood' is my pick of the blog!


February 20, 2008 4:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post.There will be reams to write about autowallahs anywhere.But,that take on their different responses was a good read :)
It is always anxious few seconds of guessing- 'Will he or won't he go'- after you name the place.When the driver turns back to flick the meter,it's pure joy,seriously!


February 20, 2008 10:20 PM  
Blogger Piscean Angel said...

Oh yes, I've also noticed how the blood group is always missing in this info thing that these autodrivers hv inside the autos. Well, that's soooo important. I think someone shud tell them abt that.
Yeah, it's true that gentlemanly auto drivers r almost an extinct species in B'lore. Altho' I'm fairly new to Bangalore (just a li'l more than 4 yrs) ... I think the deterioration in their behaviour has been quite steep.

February 21, 2008 12:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

met a coupla auto drivers with Akbar's genteel when I was home this winter. So I guess all hopes are'nt lost yet. stumbled across ur blog randomly. Neat topics :)


February 26, 2008 11:20 AM  
Blogger Bikerdude said...

Not much of an auto buff here but Ive always noticed that the bearded auto drivers are invariably the most polite and gentlemanly.

One guy poor chap was so busy chatting with me that he forgot to put on the meter, and I didnt notice either. At the end of the journey he said the conversation was more than enough and that I could give him anything I wished. Not bad, I thought.

By the way, the new rates are approx one-and-a-quarter meter.

February 26, 2008 10:16 PM  
Blogger Preeth said...

@anony -> its comes with a price. VAT extra :)

@Laxman -> Now Chennai is a different story altogether. They make Bangalore auto drivers seem like the apostles of Christ itself.

@Meera -> U bet its joy :)

@Piscean Angel -> absolutely agree. The deterioration in behavior has been pretty steep. But that said and done, everyone on the streets seem angry these days.

@Rahul -> Thanks bro.

@Biker dude -> Too much I say :) And brother, at last I got to go on the magic box. Fun it is da.

March 08, 2008 11:48 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home