All those who have been in Chennai at any point of time might have started imagining their experiences. I have stayed in many Indian cities and understand that traveling in auto in India is an art [wink], however believe me one forgets all the expertise learnt in one’s lifetime when in Chennai.

Like many other Indian cities, here in Chennai too, we have two species of autos, one is called the “shared auto” and the other umm… let’s call it “privileged auto”; these are the autos in which one sits and travels after a set of suggested procedures, which someone known to you would advise. This nomenclature is not only because I had to define it, also because it’s access for the fortunate. You need to have ready cash in bulk all the time to sit and travel in Chennai’s “privileged autos”.

Whilst writing here I just thought why don’t these auto walas install swipe machines in the autos, because the manner they demand and the manner they will never settle for the amount you approved on the first place; the non functional meter could be replaced with a swipe machine, which will accept the Credit cards or Debit cards. The value will never be a trouble since most of the times tariff will be in denominations of 100.

This will also come as a boon in cover up for individuals who have to get their travel bills reimbursed, if we want to travel by “privileged auto”, and aim to get the amount reimbursed from the finance dept in office, it’s sure that we will be laughed at the amount we ask. No one will be in agreement to the amount in the bill we produce and we will not have any way to prove it. With payments by Credit Cards, we will have a bill as an authentication that we were indeed traveling in an Auto and not a BMW.

Although there are officially set rates, auto rickshaw drivers use them more as a guideline. Using their own parameters, the drivers will adjust the price by the location one is going to, whether the auto rickshaw driver believes he can get a ride back, and how much the driver would like to charge you for not being from Chennai!

To the driver, we should always mention the location we want to go, and then ask him how much he will charge! What I am following here “DO NOT GET INTO THE AUTO UNTIL YOU HAVE SETTLED ON A PRICE”. However there have been instances where suddenly our privileged vehicle’s driver will stop and say give me this much money more then only I will go ahead or step out of auto here itself.
After all it’s his Mercedes in which you forcefully barged in and asked him to drive and now he just realized that he is more powerful than you and after all he’s from the land of Rajnikant, whose stunts they are in awe of and can be applied at any time. And yes it’s a crime if you do not know Tamil; you being the culprit, is supposed to bear the grunt, what even if they know the language familiar to both of you; it will be only used while making you sit in the auto, and shall never be used later in any case. Yes this is what I feel in all the uncalled instances I happened to experience in my tryst with Chennai’s auto walas.

Now coming to Chennai’s “shared autos”. The way Auto Drivers drive their Autos here, you wonder if it’s a Ferrari or Lamborghini steering they have their hands on, I anticipate those who have experienced will agree.

The shared auto drivers take the stunts to a different level and can give the folks who showcase their skills at the Republic Day parade a run for their money [wink]. The shared Auto is marginally bigger than your normal auto but the driver seems to think he is driving a bus. The average number of people in a shared auto can be anything from 8-10 with a few adventurous drivers stretching the limits by sacrificing their seating space too.

Every single time I sit in a shared auto here, I have my fingers crossed and I feel like that I am a part of a Grand Apollo Circus or something like being one of passenger in the auto aka airplane.

Last but not the least let me make it clear that I do not intend to criticize Chennai or its people in any means. I am here for some time now and having a good time in the city and I like it in many ways. It was an endeavor to add some wittiness to a factual and unfair state of the Auto Walas in Chennai.