The Royal Challenge of Bangalore!

In a city where everyone is capitalizing on the moolah that the IT sector seems to provide, is it but wrong on the part of an auto-wallah of Bangalore to pounce upon the opportunities laid before him? It is the city that doesn't allow the newly-paids to make a profit. Every friend who got placed, be it in IT companies or in chemical companies, is declaring himself broke by the end of every month. 'Khoon choos le, tu mera Khoon choos le' - perks of living in the newest metropolitan, I suppose?

In the middle finger that comprises wholesome expenditures in Bangalore, the auto-wallahs of the city pose as the diamond-studded wedding ring. Non-existent are those who have traveled in an auto in Bangalore, hassle-free. '20 rupees extra!' - no, this universal expression doesn't come with a question mark or with a pleading, requested tone. Its an offer you just cannot refuse.

And now the auto-wallahs of Bangalore seem to have taken lessons from their Chennai counterparts on how to shift to their mother-tongue Kannada while engaged in an argument with a customer. Few days back when I was in the city, after waiting for half an hour and being turned down by a number of auto-guys, one of their kin decided to have some mercy on us. He quoted only triple the original price to deliver us from a residential place called BTM Layout to the NIMHANS crossing.

'Saar, 120 hi lagta hai wahan tak. Chahe toh kisi aur autowaale ko puch lo..'
'Dude, ek bag kya dekh liya haath mein, socha ki foreigner hai?! Boss, yahin ke rehne waale hain (not totally true, but what the hell).. humko malum hai kitna lagta hai wahan tak, ud ke toh aaye nahi hain!'
'120 bas, warna jaao!' He finally gave us an ultimatum, and we were on a schedule.
'Bhaiya, 80 pe chalo?' (which was also almost double the original price!)
After much fuss, the autowallah nodded. Still victorious, understandably.

Choices were few and the need to hurry was overwhelming. There was a rendezvous plan with some of my very best of friends from college and a lovely senior after about five months of no-show. Had received tens and thousands of calls already to reach the predetermined venue on time. And this guy was taking one detour after another.

The mood in the tent was already askew as Rupsa kept mumbling angrily about always being overcharged on autos. The air suddenly got chilly and that was when I first felt the ominous feeling. Winter was indeed coming.

The auto guy suddenly stopped at a shady corner below a flyover, 'Bhaiya, petrol khatm, utar jaao..' Okay, dammit. We got down. Dragged my heavy bag down too. But before all else, the autowallah demanded that we pay him the 120 bucks in full.

'200 metres bhaiya, bas 200 metres door hai NIMHANS main gate' claimed he.

Now that was a blatant lie! But then one could never depend on an auto guy's mensuration skills. So I said, '80 toh in any way aapko nahi denge boss, NIMHANS abhi aur door hai, aur apne paas heavy luggage hai jo aapne pahuchaya nahi on the first place. Doosra, 200 metres ka calculation mat sunao - kyunki jhooth bolna paap hai, nadi kinaare saanp hai.. Kaali maa aayegi, gala kaat ke le jaayegi!'

No, didn't articulate that last part.

Anyway, everything I said suddenly became subtext as my companion in the war - Rupsa, for whom NIMHANS was but home-turf - was on to some heavy-duty verbal duel with the auto guy. I stepped aside to keep my bag down and pay the arse to get it over with because Rupsa was about to jump on him and suck his blood dry.

Sensing a need for damage control, I stepped in and payed the guy 70 bucks. I wanted to pay 60, but a twenty rupee note got pulled out instead of a ten. Detecting a shortage of just ten bucks, the autowallah went crazy! I think he hurled almost all the abuses in Hindi that he had gathered in a lifetime. And then to his advantage, he started in Kannada. And then in some weird dialect of English, the entirety of his offensive dialogue went on to describe an act of copulation.

I gave up any hope of a consolation or negotiation and decided to walk away. Rupsa was jumping up and down in fury and screaming back at him. I had to pick her up caveman-style and walk away. Only minutes later, the auto passed us on the road and the autowallah had a grin on his face.

For me, it was a lesson on know when you're being fucked. I'm never staying in Bangalore EVER!