Tuesday, August 23, 2005

An Auto Guide to High BP

Act: Hail an auto; Scene: I Time: Am/pm and anytime in between

The scene at 9am everyday: Boss, MG Road?
A wry smile ( like saying 'you're good, but not good enough for me,baby.' yuuuck, puke); a disgusted look; didn't-hear- you, total ignore; nonchalantly drive away; Rs 40 (it's 18 bucks from my house, goddamit)

This is only panning the myriad responses one hapless "immobile" journo faces day in and day out, even before the day's drudgery begins. And this despite putting on one's most charming smile(could give all the Miss Beautiful Smiles a run for their frigging money) and being the most polite self and putting on that most distressed damsel I'm-getting-late-for-work look. Nothing F***ING works. (sorry about the expletive, but believe me,it's much worse when you're the victim). The experience is exasperating, harrowing, agonising,torturous,(feel free to add adjs), to say the least.

The scene at 6.30 pm everyday: Ditto

The scene at 6.30 pm on a rainy day in Bangalore: Even the Gods forsake Pensioners' Paradise. Leaving the Auto Mafia to rule a waterlogged, traffic snarled, anarchical Bean-scattered Town.
Ok, am probably just another one of those daily suffering souls in this godforsaken city. But to be relegated to such dehumanised Nazi-esque treatment by sundry mercenery autowallahs? HELL. What's worse, it's like banging my head against a wall. I can continue to fume, rave, rant and scream expletives(kancha khistis galore), but even God wouldn't know how to get their stinking butts moving. You ask them if they'll take you somewhere(distance not withstanding), pat comes the nod of the head, if he's polite; others don't even bother to answer, just drive past like you didn't exist. Or you are some alien who asked for a drop to some forbidden land! Slowly, and steadily, the mercury content of blood rises till you can see the redness in the ears, nose and forehead. But alas! The autowallas are colourblind and deaf, tempered with generous laddles of shamelessness. (Guess what? I think the Gods peered in through my Venetian blinds and saw me writing this...all hell's broken loose here. They're thundering and spitting fire at me! I'm banished to Kingdom Come!)Nothing can stop me from writing this, even if it be my swansong. Ok, so where was I? Anytime of the day, come rain, come shine "One and a half saar." Or the more kinder variety: "10/20/30...arbit rupees extra madam!" (Yes, today will be one of those days.) Like just because it's the IT capital, everyone's a millionaire! S-O-B, SOB, sob ;(. Wish I were, at least a daughter/wife of one!(Envy that Malaysian journalist.) Complaint centres, letters to editors of various papers seem to be making precious little difference. And of course, the government can't be bothered. Though, must appreciate the effort of police near the Commercial Street Junction. Does help, sometimes.

In a city whose public transport also offers F*All, what do commuters have to rely on? The Auto mafia. Hail Auto!
So why are people still swarming this city from all other parts of the world, like this is the only land of opportunities? May be one should ask the Autowallas.

Sad to say, the city wasn't built to tackle a techboom...it was meant to be a Pensioner's Paradise.
Advice for wannabes shifting base to Bangalore:
1. Make sure you own a two-wheeler or four wheeler.

If you don't, please, oh please:
1. Consult Autorikshaw Association of Bangalore before choosing a flat/house.
2. Consult Autorikshaw Association of Bangalore before choosing your place of work.
Only if they approve both localities, make all other necessary arrangements. So best of luck! For those of us who are bitten by yet smitten with this GFC(godforsaken city, duh!), we'll wait for some good Samaritans to salvage us from this seemingly irrevocable plight.


willtorecord said...

Going through your profile I can not help but ask you,
1. Are you from culture studies/comparative literature stream?

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

... whereas Cal, horrible city, has oodles of public transport, even Blue Cabs. Such decadence!


the still dancer said...

Oh thou bitter, satirical man.

the still dancer said...

ummm..priyadi..btw, is there an e-mail address where one may get in touch? this is about some shameless PR and publicit related questions for my theatre activities. Mine is arka.01@gmail.com

Priya said...

@willtorecord: No am from neither. Though must thank you for considering me worthy of either!

@JAP: Thanks for rubbing it in. Apnar moto akhondo oboshorwala VIPs je shohore thake shekhane decadence chhara r ki expect kora jay! One more reason to reconsider Kolkata;-)

@Arka: check yr mail.

The Marauder's Map said...

Post totally after mine own heart. Have been considering writing acerbic, vitriolic and of course completely ineffectual post on Bangalore autowallahs myself for a long time. But you've said it all. And yes, have you noticed how the bastards sometimes keep you waiting expectantly, shifting from foot to foot, while they make up your mind about whether they want to take you where you want to go? And then, nine times out of ten, decide they would rather not?

Why is it that us middle class, no car types always get punished in what I'm sure is a class conflict?

The Marauder's Map said...

Err, make up their mind, I meant.

the still dancer said...

the marauder's map has also taken to saying err,..
copycat, copycat

willtorecord said...

Hey thanks for the reply, I am one of those who likes to believe every interesting person must be a product of Complit !
Anyway I have already thanked you for posting a link to one of Chomsky's essays, also I did mention the video/audio archive of his lectures.
Now here is the link for you and your guests in this blog.

Priyadarshini said...

not lost. just disappeared for a while. mail me. priyadarshini.nandy@gmail.com

resend me your number also please please.

joined the times of india. medianet to be precise. and liking it.
rest later.

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Raj said...

Well, even if you own a two/four wheeler, the hatred for autowallahs doesn't go away. Hate!Them!!


The autowallahs are a clear and present danger to people in cars too...as they think its their god given right to push between two cars...scatching them in the process....but hey they dont give a f*** cause their union is behind them....

Priya said...

Thanks to all those who join in the hatred.
Yes, Shrabonti, a clear case of class distinction there. And what's worse, the bloody buggers read our faces, see through them and hit us where it hurts most.
@Greatbong, wonder how you know all about them so precisely, when there are none in your part of the countryside!! Guess that's what makes you "great";). Accha achha, 40 inches er besh chhati fulley, fete jabey ebar. Relax maaadi.

Möbius said...

I totally resound priya's and arnab(aka greatbong)'s sentiment ... these bloody autowallahs are making the b'lore traffic scene worse than it already is ... Roads (or the small patch or tar between the potholes) are anyway so bad to drive and on top of that, these frigging bastards take their black-and-yellow-pieces-of-shit all over! Even the traffic policemen standing on the roads do nothing, absolutely nuthin' to help. They are only interested in making money from vehicles with out-of-town (read non KA***) license plates.
And every time you give them the fare, they would not have the change and will say "Parwaa Illa" ... why can't you leave the change and say "Parwaa Illa!!!" ...

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Shortshadow said...

I can't speak for the autowalla situation in Bangalore as my only experience of your fair city was earlier this year looking out the door of a Jet Airways Chennai - Goa flight during a stop at Bangalore.

I'd been led to believe that Bangalore was one of, if not the, high tech hubs of India, not Indian pensioner heaven. Everyone who disembarked from the plane seemed to be carrying a notebook computer, not carried off in a wheelchair so, speaking as an Australian senior citizen, why the concern about the ageing population?

As for the autowalla situation it's reassuring to know that foreign tourists aren't the only ones who have hassles. During my 5 week trip this year encompassing Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, New Delhi, Varanasi (cycle rickshaws only there), Chennai, Goa and Mumbai (4 wheelers in inner city) getting and agreeing a price was always a problem.

Most of the incidents were in retrospect minor, but a couple (eg a threat by a New Delhi autowalla to dump us in the middle of a main road)the took the edge off what was in most respects a very enjoyable trip.

Is there any chance that the autowallas will be brought closer to international best practice, eg every one having properly functioning meters and displaying multilingual notices showing basis for fare calculation, in the foreseeable future?

I, and I suspect many other foreigners, wouldn't mind paying a small (say 20%) premium on the "normal' fare to avoid all the hassles of haggling during and after each trip.

PS I see from your profile that you're a Satyajit Ray fan. Is it possible to buy a DVD of Charulata in India?

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