Tuesday, February 16, 2010

on how he saves the city..

..one auto-wallah at a time. :)

I can go on and on about auto-rickshaws given my extensive dealings with them and those who drive them, for 3 years and over. But wait, i'm not going to (go on and on, that is). (Read: Don't leave me yet, pleeeease.)

Although I would still like to record today's incident. Today we decided to take an auto-rickshaw back home. I succumbed earlier than usual for the wun-ann-haff-lagega-achha-ok-twanty-rupees-ekshtra, even though A. still had a little bit of fight in him. I persuaded him to settle for the first auto that we found that offered to take us home.

Surprise of surprises, we had landed ourselves into one of those specimens that zip and zoom in and out of traffic. These have no apparent fear of death. They can zoom into a lane of traffic from nowhere and even drive into opposing traffic (to swerve at the last moment) with alarming calm. Societal rules and restrictions hold no meaning for these carefree spirits. They are not ones to be bound by the rigidity that is human society.

The next precious minutes of our life consisted of me holding on to the edge of the auto, auto-walla merrily flouting all conceivable traffic rules like jumping the red signal and jumping ahead to the front of the signal by risking our lives onto oncoming traffic.

A. was already not in the best of moods, so when, after about 20 minutes, he tapped on the auto driver's shoulder asking him, "Aap bangalore ke hain?", I knew what was up. I gave the quiet signal to him that said, let it go. Duly ignored, he asked again, Are you from Bangalore?

Auto driver's response: Grunt. (In an affirmative questioning tone)

A. then began doing the hero-dialogue in all his anger. I wish I could do justice to his Hindi rebuke. You are from the city and even then you do all this. You break all the rules. Don't you care, being from the same city. Don't you know anything about rules. Look at all the others, aren't they following the rules. What is your problem? I can't understand you guys, you are from the city and yet you do this. And on and on.
All the while the auto driver adopted a what-do-i-care attitude with Aapka kya jaata hai? Baaki logon ka problem hai yeh to. Aise karenge nahi to chala nahi sakte yahan.

(Meanwhile I'm now down to trying the let it go let it go let it go to no avail)

I braced myself for impending doom. I half-expected him to tell us to get out of his auto, or even stop and start yelling and then who knows, find some friends to get together and and start yelling at us and god-knows-what.

But surprisingly, once the verbal sparring was over, auto-walle-bhaiya settled down, much like a sulking teenager who knows you're right but just won't admit it. He didn't stick to his lane (that's a bit much to expect from him ;)) but he slowed down, didn't jump the next signals; basically he didn't pretend he was on a racing track.

I couldn't believe it, A.'s admonition had worked! And I suspect (and really hope) it will stick for some time atleast. Dropping the chalta hai attitude, if momentarily, had done some good, and I'm pleasantly surprised. :)

Do you have any saved-the-city tales?