Friday, May 16

The CAW effect - Chennai Autowallahs

Reactions: 
Today was yet another rude chapter in the book of my experiences with the Chennai Auto Wallahs (CAWs). I was appalled as I encountered a new bargaining strategy that was as insidious as any I've encountered.

For the unitiated, what normally happens in Chennai is that you see them quote a ridiculous fare with what they consider a customer friendly expression. "I have to go from Adyar to Tiruvanmiyur", you say - a distance of 2 km. "120", comes the reply with a vigorous side to side shake of the head and a smile only a blind mother could love. You then settle on a price or repeat this for about three or four CAWs and get a feel of the best price you can get. It's not pretty, but the Chennai-ite takes it with a pinch of salt and carries on.

Today I was the victim of another ingenious scheme. I quoted the name of the area where my office is. He pretended to misinterpret the name and muttered the names of two or three places under his breath that sounded like the place I mentioned. Every time, he agreed to a pauperly sum of 80. Finally he confirmed that he heard the exact place I said and conceded to 80 again. This was shocking because the charge by meter is 67. No, that's not the shocking part. The first price that these guys quote to start with has been an average of 150, after which they settle between 80 and 100 after intense argument and an acceptable level of personal insult.

The strategy that ensued was pretty unethical even by CAW standards. After we sat, the yellow auto was set into motion. Very inconspicuously, he blurted,"120". My civil senses restrained my hand from slapping the fellow and I only managed a few unfriendly pokes on his back asking him to stop. Although, this wasn't really terrible (even I've have had worse experiences), I shudder to think what happens when women travel alone in this city. I've heard incidents ranging from CAWs spitting on women when they argue too much to them trying to ride off into the night when a lady argues. The lady is in the auto, of course.

The autorickshaw community has long been considered by many as a form of crime control, with most potential goons taking up that occupation. Although, I don't completely subscribe to that philosophy because I've met some real angelic CAWs, I do think that it's about time that the authorities start looking at this as a very real threat in terms of potential crime, rather than a votebank. After all, an auto or any private mode of transport renders the traveler at the mercy of the drivers, and that's a matter of life and death.

9 comments:

  1. Chennai Auto rickshaw drivers are worst on earth. They don't know the word called - politeness. They think, Indian govt. charges them specially for fuel and so they charge astronomical rates.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How I wish all those arrogant north-Indians complaining about Bangalore autowaalahs had a taste of Chennai Autowallah's hospitality !

    ReplyDelete
  3. you've some experience with Delhi autowallahs ?

    ReplyDelete
  4. The autorickshaw community has long been considered by many as a form of crime control, with most potential goons taking up that occupation.
    Wow! And I wondered till this day, how could these people(read autowallahs) act like apathetic, indifferent and sadistic morons!
    Whether it's Chennai or any other place, the problem is autowallah, the degree of problem increases in Chennai, for people who don't speak tamil.
    On the parting note, I simply love to detest them(reason is obvious). Some of them are angelic, I agree, yet, a dog is a dog, even if it doesn't bark!

    ReplyDelete
  5. @anonymous2: Yeah, some experience, but not enough to post!

    @deepankar: I've met some genuine guys who've helped me when I was in need, not talking about those who pretend!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Actually, as an NRI who speaks Tamil, when I lived there, if you learn to negotiate with them, it actually can be fine. If you don't speak Tamil, THAT is when they start to fleece you because they assume you are from North India. Speaking Tamil is the key ....

    ReplyDelete
  7. Actually, as an NRI who speaks Tamil, when I lived there, if you learn to negotiate with them, it actually can be fine. If you don't speak Tamil, THAT is when they start to fleece you because they assume you are from North India. Speaking Tamil is the key ....

    ReplyDelete
  8. The autorickshaw community has long been considered by many as a form of crime control, with most potential goons taking up that occupation.
    Wow! And I wondered till this day, how could these people(read autowallahs) act like apathetic, indifferent and sadistic morons!
    Whether it's Chennai or any other place, the problem is autowallah, the degree of problem increases in Chennai, for people who don't speak tamil.
    On the parting note, I simply love to detest them(reason is obvious). Some of them are angelic, I agree, yet, a dog is a dog, even if it doesn't bark!

    ReplyDelete
  9. you've some experience with Delhi autowallahs ?

    ReplyDelete