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!


  1. Hilarious! Well written too. I love the way you put across the female eccentricity.

    1. Yes yes! Laugh out loud on my misfortunes! :P And well, I had to downplay my friend's extent of female eccentricity, lest the concerned person's prowling eyes fall on my comments.. I'm glad you liked the write-up, thanks!

  2. I am surprised to hear that you had a bad experience with the auto-rickshaw drivers in Bangalore (a city which is known to be cosmopolitan). Bangalore's auto-rickshaw drivers generally go by the meter, while their counterparts in Chennai do not. I guess Bombay is better in this aspect, but I can't understand why you'd not like to live in Bangalore just after a short trip. You can't judge or decide within a day or two. Let the city grow on you! :)

    1. Its just a very costly city! I was comparing the minimum auto fares of different cities and this was the conclusion - bangalore 25 bucks, mumbai 20 bucks and kolkata 3 bucks (i think!) - hailing from kolkata, i'm assured i'll never be able to settle in bangalore.. Nor delhi for the same reasons.. But maybe mumbai!

  3. Deeptiman, your article just add up to the fun I have been having for the past five years. It's, however, important to remember that Bangalore is essentially a welcoming place if you have a quarter of an idea about the location of your destination and the involved routes, else you must know bits of the local 'kannada' dialect. Assuming that you fulfilled neither of the above conditions, I think you made a fair bargain and got away. Things could have been worse.
    I found similar sentiments expressed in an article back in 2011, where the Auto-walas were actually compared with the real life 'vampires', for obvious reasons. It was hilarious and I still found it for you even after so many days.Have a read.

    And auto fares in Kolkata has definitely gone over 3 bucks, do use some self-constraint before such bold claims. After all, 'Winter' is coming!

    1. '...You see, unlike their counterparts in Mumbai who are essentially businessmen or those in Chennai who are essentially gangsters, the Bengaluru auto driver is a man of higher moral fibre. He is a hobbyist, who is driving the rickshaw not as a profession or duty, but merely in pursuit of pleasure and perfection - much like a violinist, painter or mountaineer...'
      Thanks for the share Bobo, a good read!

  4. We won't allow this Auotowalla's dadagiri anymore. So we toppled the BJP Govt. there. Let's see if Cong. can contain them or not.

    But what will we do in Delhi for these autowallas????

    In Kolkata, however, we toppled the Govt. to help the autowallahs to enhance their fares. When a justice order for plying of metered autorikshas for long distances in Kolkata when and where Taxi refuse to go, I found its opposition from almost all the corners of life here. So we remained betrayed from the facility what Mumbaikars are getting.