Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hiring an Auto rickshaw in Bangalore

Me : Domalur, DELL office ಹತ್ರ(Near DELL office)

No sooner do i mention my destination to the auto rickshaw guys, their expression changes. Its always intimidating for me to approach a group of rickshaws. The drivers surround anyone trying to hire a rickshaw. Let me tell you, I don't know about other cities, but at least in Bangalore, its not the commuters who hire the rickshaw, but the drivers who hire the commuters!

They choose which place they want to go. Its an unpleasant experience to negotiate with them. My everyday commute to and from office goes thus-

Me : Domalur, DELL office.

Now the various responses. It could be

An indifferent head shake(Meaning NO)
A dirty look (as if they are looking at Shit!)
Just ignore as if I didn't exist(I stand there for 5-10 seconds and then it comes to my senses that they guy heard me but he doesn't want to go that route)
20 Rs extra होगा madam.(They assume me to be a non-local)
I go about the routine of asking them to justify.

One thing I observed is that they speak in Hindi or broken English with me always. It seems I don't look like a local. I have to start my negotiation.

ಯಾಕ್ರೀ ೨೦ Rs ಎಕ್ಸ್ಟ್ರಾ? main area ತಾನೇ, ಒಳಗೆ ಇಲ್ವಲ್ಲ?
(Why is it 20 Rs extra? Its main place, not interior that you wont get a hire)

ಕನ್ನಡ ಬರುತ ಮೇಡಂ. ಇಲ್ಲ ಮೇಡಂ, ಮುಂದೆ ೨ km ಹೋಗ್ಬೇಕು, ಇಲ್ಲ U turn ತಗೊಳ್ಬೇಕು. ಕೋರಮಂಗಲ ಗೆ.
(Do you speak Kannada madam...No madam, I need to go further 2 kms or a U turn to get next hire)

ಆಗಲ್ಲ ರೀ.
(No way)

This continues further on. As these guys are an unison, no one would agree for an hire without that extra money - "meter ಮೇಲೆ" meaning over the meter as they say. Sometimes I lose and agree to pay extra 10 Rs.

My destination arrives. The meter reading shows at least 30 Rs more than the normal rate as its been rigged. I confront.

ಯಾಕ್ರೀ, meter ಇಷ್ಟು ತ್ಹೊರಿಸ್ಥ ಇದೆ. 1 1/2 ಆಯ್ತಲ್ಲ.
(Why is the rate so much? Its 1 and 1/2)

(They get defensive) ಯಾಕೆ. ಅದೆಲ್ಲ ಇಲ್ಲ. correct ಇದೆ
(Who said so? Its perfect!)

I shell out double as I have already agreed to pay extra! :-(
No use arguing with them as you tend to spoil your whole day.

Observe the meter reading going haywire and confront the driver in the middle of the journey. Lo! He stops on the road and asks you to get down. The place would be such that one cant get any transportation.

ಮೀಟರ್ ಏನ್ರಿ ಇಷ್ಟು ಜಾಸ್ತಿ ಆಯಿತು
(Why is the meter reading high)

ಆಗಲ್ಲ, ಇಲ್ಕೊಲ್ಲಿ
(Not possible. Get down)

(Me - shocked) ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಇಲ್ಕೊಳಕ್ಕೆ ಹೇಳಿದ್ರೆ, ಬೇರೆ auto ಸಿಗುತಾ? ಬುದ್ದಿ ಇಲ್ವೆನ್ರಿ , ಬೆಳೆಗ್ಗೆ ಕೆಲಸಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋಗವ್ರ್ಣ, ಹೀಗಾ ತೊಂದರೆ ಮಾಡೋತು?
(If you ask me to get down, I would not get another auto. Are you out of your senses? Is this how you treat a lady who is on her way to office)

This time, the issue is they realize this is not the destination they want to go!!

ಇಲ್ಲೀಗ? 20 Rs extra ಕೊಡ್ರಿ
(Is this the place you want to go? give me 20 Rs extra)

Petrified! ಯಾಕೆ, ಅಲ್ಲೇ ಹೇಳಿದ್ರೆ. ನಾನ್ ಹತ್ಹ್ಥೈರ್ಲಿಲ್ಲ.
(Why so? You should have told me while I hopped in. I would not have agreed)

ನನಿಗೆ ಈ ಜಾಗ ಅಂಥ ಗೊತ್ಹಿರ್ಲಿಲ್ಲ. ನೀವು ಇಲ್ಕೊಂದ್ಬಿಡಿ.
(I did not realize this was the place you want to go. Get down)


When such incidents happen day in and day out, how do we go about managing these?
The rickshaw guys have a festive time when it rains or if it is late evening. They ask "double". It means, twice the amount the meter logs in. Now a days, its triple actually. They don't budge!

I had a terrible experience when I left office by 7 PM. The road my office campus is in is outer ring road, and is not safe for pedestrians after 6 PM. My destination is a central place and the meter does not log more than 50 Rs if I were to take an auto. It was raining heavily. I approached an auto and guess what how much he quoted? 150 Rs!!!!!

I walked 2 kms to the nearest bus stop drenching in rain on potholed roads and open drains!

This is one example of how people take advantage. And the advantage becomes a day-light robbery;

- when you don't know the local language.I have always been mistaken for someone who has landed in Bangalore just recently from some other part of the country and hence don't know the local ಲಂಗುಅಗೆ. People end up paying the quoted amount ಫಾರ್.

- You are a techie. As they call Software engineers. My oh my!!! Its absurd to hear the idea these guys have about techies.

Taste this

- I think you will get not less than 40000, isn't it? Why cant you pay me what I ask?
- You guys get so much money, whats the harm in giving me 20 bucks extra! - As if we have trees that shed currencies.

Some time back, Times of India brought out top 10 interesting things to do before one dies. One of them was top 10 public transport you must take around the world.

Guess what? India's auto rickshaw was among top 5. Well, most of us would not agree with that survey!

The final nail in your coffin.
This happened to a friend. She was traveling after-work hours to her home and hired a rickshaw. The route she has to take is unfriendly after dusk and is risky. Once she reached her destination, she noticed that the reading was almost double and when she asked the drive, his response was -

ಏನು ತೊಂದರೆ ಇಲ್ಲದೆ ಸುರಕ್ಷಿತವಾಗಿ ತಂದ್ಬಿತ್ತಿಧಿನಿ. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಸಂತೋಷವಾಗಿರಿ,
(I have brought you to your destination safely through that dangerous area. Be happy about that)

But there are few good men, as everywhere else; who are honest and sincere. Kudos to them and pray that these men are not polluted with such dirty ideas as others.

People often say, instead of complaining, take actions. If its handful who are corrupted, fine; how about each and everyone of them? Your day goes in filing complaints and no one takes any actions!

(PS : The guy in that snap above is my friend - for pictorial representation only :-)


  1. Hiiii

    nice post, quite informative...I honestly did not know this the reality of autoriks. in B'lore yaar !

    yaa, I agree with the last para, no use of complaints, we have a pathetic complaint handling system..we'll end up paying much more money as bribes HAHA ;D

  2. Nice article. Bangalore auto rickshaw drivers would be considered gems when you compare them to Chennai drivers. They are the worst in the country. Chennai drivers have the same qualities of Bangalore drivers and then some more. At least in Bangalore the meter is on. In Chennai, meter is only an ornament. All rates are negotiated (usually whatever they ask). In Chennai, after you sit in the auto, they will go to the nearest petrol bunk and ask you for money in advance to pay for the petrol. It happened about ten years ago in Chennai. I wanted to go from T.Nagar to LIC building in Mount Road. The auto driver asked me Rs.50.00. I immediately agreed. Now, instead of being happy the driver started to worry. How come this guy did not object or negotiate? May be I made a mistake in asking Rs.50.00. I should have asked Rs.70.00.
    When I reached the destination, I gave him Rs.50.00. He said "pottu kudunga sir" (give me some extra rupees). I told him to get lost.

    Here is the best advice someone gave me. Do not try to hire an auto from an auto stand. Try to hire an auto from empty running autos in the street. They really need your business.

  3. Hi Garima,

    Thanks for your comments.
    Yeah, this is how auto rickshaw drivers behave!
    We have to put up with it and handle it well

  4. Thanks Mano,

    Woo....Its a breather when you say Bangalore drivers are a gem compared to Chennai auto drivers. Yeah the best thing to do hire a "running" auto. Thats what I do.

  5. "The guy in that snap above is my friend - for pictorial representation only :-)"
    ha ha ha ha!!!
    ya we go through this day in and day out in india. phew! i one had a fight we the auto driver and ended up punching on his face! poor guy... he deserved it though... :-)

  6. Didn't tell Rajesh yet that I have used his picture. Hope he wont mind. Hmm...pathetic affair in India with these rickshaws. I am waiting for Metro in Bangalore

  7. Ha ha ha.. lol... :D
    (Damn! I used one more expression you've mentioned in your latest post)

    Well, I completely agree with you as these incidents are not new to me.. :-)
    By the way, felt good to read kannada on a blog. :-)

    Kannada Rajyotsavada Shubhashayagalu! :-)

  8. :-P Thats ok Karthik, if you have really LOL'd.

    Glad someone is with me on this, and understand the pain.

  9. in night 00.00 hrs

    I hired prepaid taxi and ..then he asked for more.


  10. Oh god!! thats the most terrible thing Makk

  11. Well. its not most terrible. that is yet to mention...

    here you go..

    I was with one of my female friend.
    (Now it becomes what you said..lollzzzzz)

  12. Hm.....Yeah its the most terrible thing that can happen to a female :-D


    Do you agree I am smart!! :-)

  13. lollzzzzzz

    Yeah you are quite smart dear.

    :) :D...!

  14. Makk,

    Just QUITE smart??? I am VERY smart :-P


I'd love to know what you thought :-) Please shoot!