Saturday, April 21, 2018

Autowallas of Bombay

More autowallas reject me daily than women and interviewers combined have done all life. At first, staying a stone throw’s distance from your office seems a wonderful proposition in a city with roads as wide as Adnan Sami 2.0 and with as many private cars as droplets in the neighbouring Arabian Sea. Add to it the deluge the city experiences beginning June, the omnipresent autos are the Noah Arcs from the Bible’s Genesis flood narrative. The irony is that in a city where everyone’s trying to take you for a ride, the only guys who don’t are the ones whose job is to take you for one.

So as a former science student and a veteran of 44 days in the maximum city, I came up with certain theories and possible solutions to the every morning commute problem and tried them out for real:

Theory 1: Stand in the middle of the road to get access to autos coming from both sides    
Got rejected by the sixteen coming from the left and seventeen from the right. Finally saw a thirty fourth coming straight at me right down the middle of the road. He stopped, said woeful things about the professions of some of my family members and sped off  

Theory 2: Instead of sticking out just one hand, stick out two and plead
By the time the forty-fifth autowalla agreed to take me, had got sufficient change from the public passing by that I could pay him all in coins

Theory 3: Instead of sticking out just one hand, bring your entire body in the way
Have you tried the Cold Coffee at the Hiranandani Hospital cafeteria? It’s yum! Had that on all seven days I was admitted there.
‘MH 02’ is all I remember from his number plate 

Theory 4: Pit stop at an oft frequented place near your destination and take a second auto from there
The fifth autowalla nodded and I reached the pit-stop in no time.
…I’m typing this from the pit-stop, waiting for a second autowalla to say yes

Theory 5: On your way to the pit stop, fake a call and then tell him to change destinations
He left me stranded in the middle of nowhere as soon as I asked him to change destinations.
Now waiting for an auto to take me to my destination. Or the pit stop. Or anywhere out of here! 

Theory 6: Stand next to a pretty girl also waiting for an auto, when he stops, leapfrog and get in
This worked on some days. Meanwhile, all women in my building think I’m a pervert    

Theory 7: Start shouting ‘rickshaw!’ instead of ‘auto!’. This isn’t Delhi.
This one indeed worked! I didn’t have to wait for autos anymore.
I waited for rickshaws

Theory 8: Wait near a pothole or a speed breaker. As it slows down, just jump in
…and come out from the other side

Theory 9: Confuse the autowalla by asking him where he’s headed and say ‘that’s where I’ve to go’
…and actually end up going there

Theory 10: Shift to South Bombay
And then open this post, find and replace ‘auto’ with ‘taxi’