Friday, November 13, 2015

#NaBloPoMo Day 13 - The Spirit of Mumbai Autowallas

NaBloPoMo November 2015


Why do rickshaw guys cheat? This is a question I have pondered over for a long time now. Why do they have the distinction of being untrustworthy, taking a circuitous route, being unfriendly? We all know that the reasons are rooted in our travel experiences in the past. Just like the people in uniform, we have a certain distrust of people who ply on roads promising us to take us to our destinations - but terms and conditions apply.

Having live in three cities of India (and traveled to others on work), I have a fair idea about the 'autowallah' scene in different cities. After living in Bangalore and Delhi, taking the rickshaw in Mumbai was a welcome change! I can safely vouch for the fact that the auto guys in Mumbai are very humane and well behaved people. There are instances where you run into problems with them but those are exceptions rather than the norm - like in other cities. And I will also accept that they do get a little choosy about taking passengers during monsoons.

What struck me when I newly came to Mumbai was promptly getting back a rupee for a tenner since the minimum fare was Rs. 9. Now, this was a surprise after Delhi getting the rickshaw guy to travel to your destination at a decent fare is as easy as answering the question - What do women want?! (I've heard that question is quite a bitch and no one knows the answer to it!) I remember choosing to wait for a bus to office than muster the energy to argue with a rickshaw guy.

The ubiquitous mode of transport for Mumbai middle class (Photo credit)
This post is actually dedicated to the autowallas of Mumbai. I have never come across rickshaw guys who thank their customers, apologise for the wrong turn and take U turns to get you right in front of your destination except in Mumbai. I have never missed not driving because of the ubiquitous rickshaws in the city. And not going by the meter, thankfully, is not yet an option here. Mumbai is a safe city for women and there are rickshaws on the night beat - both of which make it super convenient for women to step out after dark without having to worry about travel back home. What takes the cake is that I have had a rickshaw guy taking a 10 rupee note and leaving one rupee when the fare was Rs. 11 and I handed 2 tens! This has got to be the best thing to happen to anyone traveling by this mode of transport. It's not about the amount but about the intention of the person here. While, drivers in other cities are known for fleecing passengers, here is an exemplary workforce willing to charge below meter!

The work ethic of Mumbai rickshaw guys sets me thinking about the other cities. Are the govt fares in other cities really so low that they have to resort to arguing with customers to make the cut? Do these guys not want to make money like the others? Why do the rickshaw guys in some cities refuse even though they seem to be jobless and chatting in groups of drivers? I don't have answers to these questions. I can only thank my stars that the city I live in has honest men who are willing to work hard for their living and honestly so.

Do you have any good or bad rickshaw experiences in your city? I'd love to hear about them. Drop me a line in your comments or hit me on Twitter at @Suman_Kher.

1 comment:

  1. I was in Mumbai for 6 months and you are right about your experience. They are humble, go by the fare and don't so no when asked to be hired.

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