October 1, 2010


(A Simple Guide to Handle the Auto-walas of Delhi)

Let’s face it, most of the middle class Indians like to nurture a sense of aristocracy. While the ‘aam-janta’ is forced to travel by the cheap, pan-stained, sweaty DTC busses, there are some of us who prefer to travel alone in chauffeur-driven vehicles. In all likelihood since we can’t afford the fancy, air-conditioned limo, we have to opt for our very own desi-auto.

The problem which most snooty auto-walas have, is that they believe they are the boss. They will argue, they will bargain and they will not shut up. In the yester-years (or rather yester months), before the great-Meter-system was brought back to life from the land of dead, the auto-wala-Dilliwala interaction was always uh, a colourful experience. However, to board an auto, we need to pass a three-step process:

STEP 1-Holler. Get their attention

Requirements: A strong larynx, a long hand which flaps incessantly for attention, and bright colourful clothes.

Process: It’s easy for women, because the auto-walas usually would stop for a damsel in distress. It is important to catch the auto-wala’s attention in the first go, so that he stops, rather than just happily driving past by you with a sadistic grin. Men on the other hand, have it hard. But fikar not, an auto-wala has to make his money, so he will stop anyway. Just practice that larynx.

STEP 2-Let the Bargaining Begin!

Requirements: Knowledge of the word ‘bhaiya’; knowledge of the pronunciation of the word ‘bhaiyaaa’; a handkerchief to wipe your sweat off (this may take a while); extra mascara for fluttering your eyelashes if nothing else works! (Yes, men too can give it a go).

Process: Now unless you are a Baniya, a Gujju or a Sindhi, you haven’t really mastered the art of bargaining, and you’d probably have a tough time convincing the auto-wala why he shouldn’t rip you off. But all this was before the meter-system came along. Yes, gone are the days when the meter box sat redundantly on the ledge, longing to be acknowledged, while the auto-wala randomly quoted an exorbitant fee to take you to a place which was 10 minutes away from where your feet stood. Of course, the ride would include a bumpy drive, a curious ‘checking you out’ glace from the rear view mirror every now and then, and a mind-numbing, anaesthesia-infused yak on politics, the youth of today and city etiquettes—all for free, but still, let’s just not go there. However yes, if the autowala throws his nose in the air and refuses to budge from his price, the archaic yet effective ‘bhaiyaaaa pleaaasseee?’ teamed with a polite smile to melt his heart can be applied. It usually works, not kidding. Or am I?

STEP 3-Get your hiney in, sista!

Requirements: Good music on the I-pod or tune up the FM on your phone and pray to god the RJ is not playing Himesh!

Process: Now don’t make me teach you how to sit in an auto for heaven’s sake, but yes, be sure to turn up the volume on the music—you don’t want the auto-wala chatting you up. I’ve been there, and believe me, it’s no fun.

The Syndrome: Every auto-wala possesses the “chutta nahin hai” syndrome—it’s a classic ‘let me earn some extra bucks off my naive customer... hehehe’ strategy. How to outsmart our man? Simple, carry extra change and pay him the exact amount. He’ll be heartbroken but life alas, is unfair, isn’t it?

Return ticket: Most auto-walas will crib about where they have to take you. Whether your destination is tucked in some god forsaken place or whether he’s just playing bluff, almost every Dilli-wala has come across the phrase: “Vapis savari hi nahin milti, toh kya kareingey phir?” There are two situations that can arise out of this statement—either he is not going to move his butt, or he’s going to charge you extra—and usually, it’s the latter. What to do? Play the bluff back. Tell them you’ll make sure you’ll get them a customer on their return. And once you reach your destination, then what? Well, promises are meant to be broken, aren’t they?

So now that I’ve given you enough gyaan, I suggest you go out on the streets brimming with confidence and tackle those auto-walas!


Anonymous said...

Most informative...good going...keep the bright ones comin.

five_silver_rings said...

Thank you.

I'd really like to know who you are though. Think it's about time. Don't you?

Anonymous said...

My pleasure entirely.....

Well i agree its about time.....though it may be a little funny and maybe awkward...,

And i'd say again you've got freaky talent working up such poetry and prose, don't give it up. Keep churning good stuff, i'd be reading :)

Bibin said...

Hi there

Oh dear...I would definitely end up fighting with the rick guy, which I anyway would do :P, I will let you know the status of my physiological condition with an x-ray, which would be scanned and sent to you-hoping my teeth and bones are intact-then you know its me :)

nice read...I like your style of writing.


blog: bibinrk10.wordpress.com

oxy_moron said...

hehe..funny and useful..i once wanted to do a post on the chennai auto wallahs..you have almost inspired me :)


oxy_moron said...

hehe..funny and useful..i once wanted to do a post on the chennai auto wallahs..you have almost inspired me :)


Anonymous said...

hi you have been quite, quite...
Advise: don't resolve but conjure up more of your contagious magical prose/poetry in 2011.
Looking forward to engaging reads.
& yea...H.N.Y! :)

five_silver_rings said...

Bibin: Haha, do that :) Am I challenging you? Most certainly.
Oxy-moron : That's what I'm here for. Inspiration.
Anony: I. Want. To. Know. Who. You. Are.
(Although I'm quite certain as to who you are, you might as well come into the limelight. It's not polite. Shame on you.)

Anonymous said...

Almost read Anony: as Annoy :p no thats not the intent & you dont know me so i dont think guessing could work. Its also not polite to wish back H.N.Y. but i am not complaining & ya still hve time :) and Ian Curt descript was like a nice jab, nicely done.

Nebu said...

Good sheat! :D Was laughing my way through it, starting around there... "It is important... grin" not to mention "bhaiyaaaa pleaaasseee?"... classic! Think I might have even heard you say that, just never knew how powerful it actually was I guess, considering I got home safe and sound with my izzat intact. Ah, sometimes, it really does pay to be a woman I guess.

Side Note/Offtopic : Where the new writings (Yes I intended the plural form)? the new writings, as in recent, past few weeks, days, sort of new? My mind craves new writings! Feed me new writings! NOW!