Auto drivers

A few Auto-Rickshaw Stories

10:13 AM

For those who never heard of those vehicles ever before, it's a kind of scooter with 3 wheels, two in the back one in the front, there is the driver seat and a bench in the back for up to 3 passenger.
And Oh yes it does come with a rude guy called a driver. In fact, at this point I am convinced that rickshaw drivers are part the rudest species on Earth, and usually they become even meaner with foreigners.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you read the entry about my experience with one of those in Chennai. By moving to Bangalore I hoped to solve the problem...and I partially did, first because here they have to turn the meter and it better be accurate (I know when it's not). But, me being a white faced foreigner who on top of that don't even speak Hindi or Kanada ( the local language here), I face a few problems. Problems like drivers suddenly refusing to turn the meter and pomising to take me for a special discount fare (alway double the price of the metered fare). Or the one who turn the meter and tell me to pay extra money because of traffic jam, or extra taxes, or because I went further than the street limit (I live in the suburb)...They love making up these type of stories to extort money from someone they suspect to be clueless.

I'm kind of used to those, and I handle them well. But when my mom and sis came, it took a spin for the worst. I'm brown haired and despite the fact I'm still fair there is still the benefits of doubt, very few drivers try to cheat me when I am on my own and when they do try, they usually back off after a nasty glace from me. My sister is Blonde, and really really fair. What's more she refused to dress more conventionally on the pretext that wearing a kurta was not in her culture, and she also insisted on wearing those bright trendy orange sunglasses which achieved the perfect tourist look. So obviously, taking an Auto from my suburbian/village in the city place every morning to go to my mom's hotel was hard...really hard.
The first day we were asked tripple the price of the fare and he refused to turn the meter. We had to walk through the entire village to the main road to find an honest guy. The second day, we had an Auto waiting for us. I realised soon enough it was one with a traficated meter that usually hang out around my building. It charged us 10 bucks more and that ass actually went as far as pretending he didn't had change on my money until I yelled louder than anything and killed him 3 times with an atomic rocket look. So much so that all the following days I walked to the main road to catch one in motion instead (these are usually honest and dont gang on you).

One day, it went really too far, we took an auto for what I knew would be a 30 rupees fare. For you information, the first 2 km are charged no matter what distance you travel.  That is the minimal fare, which is Rs 10 wich mean the price of a kilometer is 5 rupees. Lots of driver out there trafficate their meter as soon as a foreigner sit in it and you need to be really careful about this, usually they activate the cheat mechanism by turning the flag more than once or fiddling with a small gear at the bottom. In this case apparently the driver saw us from a distance and trafficated the meter while I couldn't see it. But I noticed as soon as we start moving. We hadn't done 200 meters than the meter was diplaying 11.50 already. After 500 meters, it had already charged us Rs 15 ( a3 km fare!). The driver even started to make his Auto move a few inches back and forth a the red light to charge additional us rupees. Needless to say I told him to stop the Auto at once. Which had him telling me that the fare would be 60 rupees and that he didn't see why I was yelling. I informed him I was no fool and that I knew the minimal fare was 10 bucks for 2 km and that we barely did 500 meters and that the meter charged 3 km. The look on his face was priceless at this point, he realised I was not a dumb tourist at this point. I told him I would pay what was on the meter even though it was overpriced, and he went as far as claiming 60 bucks because we broke the deal and decided I owed him the whole cheat fare. I told him to fuck off and threw the 15 rupees at him.

Right now, I'm on a sort of black list auto drivers down my building keep. The must be telling one another about that white girl that refused to be cheated and is an annoying. So now, each time I need to take one, I need to walk to the main road for no one even accept to take me there, they dont even try to quote an inflated rate anymore. 
The other day I came back home from down town and the driver asked me 10 rupees more for it was off his limits (there is no such thing but hey they still try), I told him I wanted all the change on my 100 bank note (in this case 30 buck) and he snappped at me and told me : Money surely didn't matter to me since "Where is the problem? You are Fucking British!" That was the last straw! I yelled at him to comply immediately, stomped the floor of his Auto loud enough to terrify him and snatched the 30 bucks out of his hand yelling, that I was earning my salary like anybody else here, and that if he really insisted, I was a fucking SWISS...thank you very much!

I will move in 2 days to a more central location in town. I will have a new set of Auto Driver to deal with there and let's see how long it will take for me to end up on their black list as well...I must be one of the few foreigner who do not play their game.

Each time someone I know plan to visit India I tell them NOT to tip them. Often foreigner take pitty on them for the fare all highas it is here still convert into peanuts in their local currencies. They feel like doing a good deed by offering more. First guilty party in this practice: Touristic Guides. They are the first one to recommend tipping for everything even when it is not required...Needless to say this behaviour makes it harder for even locals in the long run.


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