Let’s start with the infamous Chennai autos.
When we exited from Central (which is Chennai railway station), Sathya asked the guard for directions to ECR & then “How much for auto to CMBT?”
The guard asked,” Why auto? Take Bus - 15G. Auto BIGGG money.”
It amused us to notice how he said “big” He was being considerate & kind to us by forewarning us. Thank you - Guard at Central.
That’s your first intro! That’s how the impression builds up about the autos being bad. Even the locals don’t prefer them & after 4 days of being in Chennai, I am wondering aren’t they the ones adding to the negative publicity around the poor auto guy? I have noticed when the people in Chennai direct you to the nearest bus stop, they always say, “walk. Here only. No auto. Why auto?”Once we walked all the way from Sowcarpet junction to almost near Rippon building because someone said, “here only – 5 min”! And this was at 7 in the evening! You get a feeling that, more than the aversion to highly overcharging autos, it’s their thought of why waste money when you can walk over?
We didn’t face any major problems with the autos. Swear. Except that one time when returning from the Royal Plaza hotel near Koyembedu, an auto said, Rs 100 to the bus stand which is on the other side! Sathya refused, offered to pay the actual price & was walking away when the auto guy shouted, “Poda” (Go). Not one to be cowed down or to let an abuse go to waste, Sathya shouted back, equally rowdy like, “Hogo” in Kannada. One word more & there would have been a real showdown.
But that was a one-off case. Most of our other encounters were amusing, to say the least. We would enquire, before hand, with a person standing nearby as to the actual fare to a given place & when the auto guy would quote 3-4 times more, Sathya would say in his trademark Tamil mixed Kannada mixed English mixed Hindi, “yennna saar? Nimma auto beda. Just drop bas.” Then he would offer to pay the exact fare & the auto guy would hesitate & when we’d walk away, he’d say, “vara saar” & we’d hop on & then Sathya would talk to them about Mankatha the movie we just watched or about the nearest beer shop, or about the scores in the then ongoing Champions league or generally about Bangalore. Almost all of them would engage in friendly banter, in return & when we’d get off, they’d accept the money with a smile.
Once after shopping in Sowcarpet, we came near Central & Sathya was looking for restaurants to booze. There were NONE around! There were bars. There were hotels. There were no restaurants that served liquor or where families could go. One auto guy explained the rationale behind it, “Drink in bar, eat in hotel. Separate, separate. No family” Sathya asked almost 10 autos “thanni yevla karikarda?”, accompanied by the hand gesture of course!
We even called up Just Dial & found a pub & the pub guy spoke to the auto guy about the address & everything was ok but then one hitch. No children allowed. Sathya made a puppy face & said to the auto, ”Yella ok. My daughter – chinna problem!!” The auto had waited for us for more than 10 min but when he went off, he was laughing at the whole situation. He must be thinking this huge, crazy man from Bangalore dying for beer! Once, Sathya stopped an auto just to ask him for match-stick to light his cigarette & when the auto asked, "Yevla pova", Sathya said, “Bus” pointing to the bus coming behind. He shook his head & laughed.
They do have a sense of humor.
Sathya with his hard earned mug of beer in Royal Plaza Hotel - Koyembedu - FIIIINALLY :)