The most Dangerous Species in Chennai!

Lest you should be mistaken,let me clarify that I am not referring to any plant or animal here. This post is about the most notorious species in Chennai called ‘autoriksha drivers’. They are everyone’s nightmare. Every time one steps out of one’s home,dealing with the auto drivers would be the toughest battle on hand. No strategy is fool-proof when it come to negotiating with them. As one approaches an auto-stand ,the auto drivers would look on with glee sensing an approaching victim or prey. The meter fixed at the back is merely ornamental serving virtually no purpose. It is hardly ever used and in fact no one(neither the passengers nor the drivers) is keen to operate the meter. This is because you are fleeced either way -with or without putting on the meter. Most of the meters are rigged to show much higher fare than the actual. The meter would race off with a speed matched only by your heart beats! One is better off to bargain and hire an auto,although it is a totally one sided negotiation. The passenger has no bargaining power whatsoever.
On the days it rains the auto drivers are smiling all the way. When it rains,money literally pours into the driver’s pockets! Or to put it differently,the auto drivers make gold while the sun hides!

On one specific occasion,though,I had quite a unique experience. I came out of a music concert at the prestigious Music Academy in Chennai and was looking out for an auto at round 9pm. Instantly one auto zoomed in front of me and wanted to know my destination. I refused to answer and started walking towards Triplicane. He was slowly but surely following me at the same brisk pace at which I was walking. He enquired again where I was heading. I reluctantly said: ‘Triplicane’ and he instantly quoted a fare of Rs50/. I said ‘nothing doing’ and kept walking with more conviction. He continued to follow me,stopped again and quoted a revised fare of Rs40/. I ignored and continued to walk as though he did not exist. He looked irritated and said,”Enna sir pogareenga pesaama”,and offered to take me for Rs30/. I decided not to make any counter offer in spite of his best efforts to draw my attention. By then I must have already walked about half a kilometer or so. And I was more or less determined to walk all the way to Triplicane. As he relentlessly followed me again,my body language was also showing equal firmness. I did not have to say anything further and quite unexpectedly,the driver scaled down his fare to a mere Rs 20. I could not believe my ears at the offer. It was as if I travelled back to older times when autoriksha drivers were known to be very reasonable like in Mumbai. I simply hopped into the auto,got off at Triplicane and had the last laugh!
For the first time in life I could feel the power of ‘Walking’ which was clearly far superior to the power of ‘Talking’ in this particular instance.


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