Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just 3, but no less mean!

In yellow and black, these snorty looking 3-wheeled menace-on-the-roads, have always kept me at a safe distance. The public transport system (more specifically, the state buses and autorickshaws) is not something I prefer to use unless of course there's no other alternative.

I remember an incident back in my school days. I used to go to tuition classes on a two-wheeler. One day, I had a flat tire. I had no option but to take a bus. I went to the bus stop, waited for 5 minutes, no sign of the bus, decided to walk to the next bus stop, instead of idling away my time in the bus stop. Waited again for 5 minutes. No sign, walked again....My destination was a good 5 km away. And believe it or not, I walked it up! Can't wait for nothing. Not even a bus.

Coming back to the topic of the snorty-looking mean-machine on 3 wheels (what they call 'autorickshaws', or 'auto' in short), here's a brief description of how it looks to me (or others who see it in my perspective):

  • It has a rod for a starter, that you pick up from the floor to start the engine (The auto driver pulls it up in a jerk, my biggest fear is, if it'll come apart)
  • It has a handle like in a scooter, to steer the vehicle in any direction you want to (literally 'any').
  • The clutch is on the handle, just like in a scooter, to change gears (top speed of 30-35 km, but most of them try to push it to 50 km, when you can hear the engine screaming at the top of its ummm.....voice?)
  • It's got a balloon-shaped horn on its side (that rather looks like a big belly, ready to belch that loud 'paum-paum'!)
  • The engine is too loud for my liking (funny spluttering sound at that!)
  • It runs on diesel or petrol...not sure (But it leaves a trail of smoke and smells rather of kerosene!)
  • It has a blunt nose with a head lamp fixed to it (It looks like someone punched him real hard on the nose)
  • It has a glass window pane in front (so the driver & the unfortunate passengers can see where they are actually headed!)
  • It is closed behind with a small window opening (perhaps, for passengers to see if the cops are chasing them?!)
  • It has a driver's cabin with a single seat, separated by 2 or 3 horizontal bars from the passenger area (Wish it was sound proof as well, so the passengers would have been spared the needless chatter with desperate-to-make-small-or-idle-talk auto drivers!).
  • The passenger area usually accommodates 3 people (in regular autos - there are bigger ones too). But I've seen autos plying school children to & fro the school carrying at least 8-10 children at a time in regular autos!
  • When it's raining, 2 flaps drop from either sides at the pull of a rope (so the slush is not in your face...some innovation, I must say!

Apart from its funny looks, it feels funny riding on it as well. Here's why:

  • The driver navigates the auto like it's a tiny tricycle in the middle of heavy traffic (and you can't hear anything else but your heart exploding in your ears).
  • Autos can really ride bumper (read: auto's nose) to bumper (read: butt of the vehicle in front)... And if I was the 'sitting duck' inside the auto, I would close my eyes, feeling like I'm underneath that 'butt', and hoping that the driver wouldn't drive so close.
  • The ride is normally bumpy. When I was pregnant, I thought I needn't have to wait all of 9 months and bother going to the hospital - what with all those jerks, the baby would have jumped out anyway bawling "what the hell"! (Would the baby then get auto-citizenship and a free ride for the rest of her life?! Well, I would have refused it, considering the ride in an auto is a rather unpleasant one!)
  • There's more, but I realize that this post is getting longer than I'd expected, and as usual, I'm losing my patience.

And did I tell you, I once went walking all the way to my friend's house for lunch, bcoz I didn't have the patience to wait for an auto! That was quite a distance to cover on foot, especially for someone who doesn't normally walk even if it's a place just walking-distance away!

But mind you, if there's an emergency, none of the autos seem to stop for you, inspite of putting your hand out, your belly out or your whole self in the middle of the road, risking your life...all for a funny ride in a funny looking auto!

While we're still dwelling on the subject of "auto" here's something funny:
When I was in Bombay I had to depend on the local trains and autos to take me to office and back. In autos out there, there normally is a small message written in the passenger area in hindi which reads - 'Fuck-the theen pravasi' ('th' as in thirst), meaning, 'Only three passengers' in marathi, and on partial translation means something different all together! F*** the you-know-who! OMG!!


Destiny's child... said...

Haha! A very interesting autology abt autos! Best part was the message in the bombay autos! :D
Btw, what's this grudge against public transport? explained yourself, I know.
May be I'll join this auto-bus hate club after I buy a car of my own. Till then, it's public transport zindaabaad! ;)

Nice Post! :)

RGB said...

Dear Destiny's child...I don't know, but I think I'll call it the public-transport-system-phobia for the moment, bcoz my experiences so far with buses and autos have only been terrifying. Initially the sub-urban trains in Mumbai also put me off. What with the standing on one foot, being jostled around, and even literally thrown out onto the platform even if it wasn't where I wanted to alight...phew! However, I got used to it and actually started liking it after a while. Perhaps, bcoz I didn't have a better & faster alternative then. When you have your own car, I'm sure you'll feel the same way I do! Until then, enjoy your public-transport-system journeys!

The Holy Lama said...

Auto is the automatic choice for short distances if you fon't have a vehicle of own or like today -when you are incapable of riding one. Iam FOR THE AUTO.

Rush said...

LOL...u r only Anti the public transport...well, as much as i was the same boat back in bombay,i badly miss the autorickshaws here in the US...the cabbies are too expensive here, the public transport is Saaad as compared to india, only option is to take the damn car out and drive urself...coming to a different country, ive realised the value of autos and trains..but not there, i used to curse them as much, there was even a time when i held the collar of a rickshawala.
But, now ehen i go back...its heavenly...rather jerkily...but yeah!!

RGB said...

Holy Lama, what r u doing on the computer? u r supposed to take complete rest! Auto or no auto, don't strain ur back. Go lie down now. And that's an order.

RGB said...

Rush...You're right. When u r spoilt for choices, u tend to crib abt the lesser convenient options. And when u r left with no other alternative, u begin to appreciate the very option you cribbed abt! Such is life.

KParthasarathi said...

You haven't exaggerated a bit.True this menace in the form of a three wheeler trap is a cruel neccessity for many.But I like the way you write humourously.Thank you for visiting my blog

A New Beginning said...

ha ha !!! God this was some know how to make people laugh RGB, you sure do:)Keep UP!

mathew said...

hehe..i dont have trouble with rickshaws..but i have trouble with rickshaw drivers in the bigger cities who are a law unto themselves...:-(
But reading this post can scare anyone off from taking a rickshaw..atleast for a while!;-P

RGB said...

@KParthasarathi, My experience with autos is mostly unpleasant...and when I had a close brush with an auto just 2 days back becoz of the auto guy's recklessness, I thought my blog was the best place to vent my fury against the 3-wheel menace on the roads. I'm glad you like my style of expression. And I'm also very impressed with the way you come up with short stories with such distinct characters and moral-of-the-story.

@A New Beginning, Happy to have been able to make other people laugh through my blog(s). And thanks indeed for the encouragement.

@Mathew, The Auto Drivers are another story altogether...Phew! If my blog post can put people off autos, I would say, good for them. Again, it all depends on the alternative options available. If we must, we will, won't we?! Thanks Mathew for stopping by. I've read a couple of your posts and find them interesting.

Novice Writer said...

hehehee! Sharp and precise observations, RGB! :-)) Hmm auto rides can be a great alternative for roller coaster rides and sometimes give you a near-death-experience with your whole life flashing before you...But yes, can't do without these 'snorty looking 3-wheeled menace' either:-)

RGB said...

@Novice Writer, Roller Coaster rides...hmmmm! It's a good option for 'adventure', coming to think of it! And like you said, sometimes, though I hate to say it, they're totally indispensable!