It's good for the peace of mind to know that autos have an upper hand in accepting or turning down your outstretched arm. Their rejections are (really) life's least-scathing 'no's. With rains, the value of the moving refuge called autos spikes in the city. But on most sunny days though, these elderly essentials may build up surprises of variety...
Dust had layered the seat of the auto. When I asked the young driver a cloth for cleaning, he pointed to the pocket of space at the back of the seat. But then, he sprung up, beat me to it, picked up the cloth and made a quick work of wiping off the dust.
Only when I looked at his frozen face and then his hand did I realise the cloth was a piece of an old underwear!
Know that pit stops are features of auto rides. A stop for refuelling, a stop to buy packed lunch, a stop to pick up cigarettes, beedis, or bananas. If you've taken autos for long enough, you adopt such stops into the rides and make nothing much else of them.
The day was an afternoon when the driver uttered, "Ond nimisha (one minute), madam," and exited the auto. Within seconds, he returned and the journey continued, and not long after, it moved at a pace next to stillness. A low stream of murmur from the driver began and his neck hung low. His manner definitely showed that he was drunk. But he was alert enough to ask me for the rupees the metre had counted for the journey so far. He even assured me of having change and offered a palm-sized masala'ed fryum wheel!
There are times when auto drivers oblige with the best shortest routes to the destination. I like the speed they take to manage my lateness. However, taking short-cuts doesn't translate into speedy journeys.
Not on that day when the auto driver took the shortest route but slowed down to offer his reverence in the direction of every passing temple and stone shrine on footpaths.
Plonked in the traffic of the city once, the road unseen, the auto driver intrigued the low-spirited me with... "Of course, you can still see traffic-free roads." "Oh, really? Where?" (He had made me a part of a conversation.) "In Rajkumar's films," he said. (And it had been a short, smile-bringing one.)
But autos have competition now... A relative shared a cab ride with a person new to Bengaluru. And she noticed that the cabbie dropped the co-passenger a certain distance away from the destination to avoid the hassle of taking a U-turn, and pointed a finger in the general direction of the place. When asked why, he said, "Adu aakaasha torsi, chandran hudkodu antha, madam." (Sometimes, you have to point at the sky and tell them 'there's the moon', and they'll spot it eventually.)