Angels of the Day

…are the auto-wallahs I met today.

Yes, you heard it right. πŸ™‚

Truthfully, most harrowing thing that I have encountered in Pune has been its auto rickshaws.

Some days ago, I was actually stuck with an auto driver, who was taking me round and round the same place, asking directions to random people, taking random turns. I got very scared inwardly since I didn’t know my way to home either and it was about 9 already. I finally ordered him to stop, threw some bills (even though I was still within mile of my source point) and ran away.

Pune auto rickshaws have used every trick in the book to cheat me. They usually tell you incorrect fare, since meter shows only distance covered. Once, they used Bombay or some other place rate card (which had higher rates), lied to me that in the morning newspaper tariffs have been increased, had faulty meter that stopped in between and now they demand unreasonable price. Of course, I have deflected most of them barring once or twice, because I can easily calculate the fare correctly.

So today, when hurriedly paid some bills (usual fare) to the auto wallah and was rushing out to office, he stopped me to hand me some bills back. I gaped in confusion.

He was forty-ish bespectacled Muslim driver with hennaed hair and beard.

He explained, I had paid him more money. And I remembered then that I had flagged auto away from home so obviously it was less fare. Gingerly, I told him, no one ever takes less. He dismissed my observation with curt β€œBanta nahi to kyun lun.” Loosely meaning, if that is not the deserved cost, why should I take.

I was so touched by this gentleman’s gesture, I blessed him hundred times in my heart. For reinforcing my faith in people. And auto wallahas. πŸ˜€ God bless him!

Similarly, on my way back from the malls of my swine-flu city, where I had accompanied a friend to find a nice gift for her husband (What do you gift men, by the way, besides clothes, accessories, wallets, cologne?), I easily found an auto way back. By meter. It is a minor miracle since I live in bit far-end of city; and auto rickshaws refuse to ply at times.

Next time I complain about auto rickshaws, remind me of this post. By the way, is there anything we can do when autowallahs refuse to ply and overcharge? 8)

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41 Responses to “Angels of the Day”


  1. 1 Chittaranjan August 20, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Its the same old thing…few baddies spoil the image of the entire auto-wallahs! Though such good samaritans do exist, the greater visibility of the evil-eyed-money-craving-goons always makes us think (and say) bad things abt them.

    BTW, I find it strange that the autos should have distance meters instead of fare meters 😐

    • 2 Poonam Sharma August 20, 2009 at 11:36 pm

      That was fast, Chittaranjan. Perhaps you don’t have clutter in your reader like me. 😦

      I presume Hyderabad has fare meters.

      I guess autos in all Indian metro cities are bad. Bad because they do overcharge and refuse to ply. In Delhi, I used to leave office 15 minutes early with my friend to catch an auto to CP, Central Delhi. After 6, it was always hard to find auto.

      In Pune, you can still find auto but you have to live on the preferred route of autwallah (which may be on his way to home) or pay 10-20 bucks more to meter price. It goes without saying they will try to overcharge you in stating meter fare unless you correct him. For this reason, autos from auto stand near my complex refuse to take me to near by distances like office, for they know I wont pay extra.

      In two months, it was a nice day I had with auto.

  2. 3 Vee August 21, 2009 at 3:05 am

    We shouldn’t generalize anything. if you came across angels, you will also come across demons… again and again.. both of them. It’s a cycle.

    B’lore is known for notorious auto-wallas like only second to Chennai ones. And coming across such angles here is a miracle.

    Refuse to ply and overcharge is a common thing here too. I have raised my voice many times. Once, reported to Cops also but nothing comes out of it in entirety.

  3. 4 Liju Philip August 21, 2009 at 5:52 am

    i though a honest rickshaw wallah is an oxymoron πŸ˜‰ Anyway, if he charges high or refuses to take to your destination, no point fighting with him. Just write down the auto details and lodge complaint with police.

    It works in Hyd at least.

  4. 5 Mahendra August 21, 2009 at 6:59 am

    There are the bad guys and then, sometimes, there are the good guys. There are a set of autos in Pune who give free rides to blind people, 50% discounted rides to disabled people.

    In cases of traffic accidents, sometimes at unearthly hours also, you will find ordinary folks not stopping to help, but auto rickshaws never refuse.

    Extremes are the norm, even with people. Why should auto rickshaw drivers be different? πŸ˜‰

  5. 6 Ava August 21, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I think you can request a police officer to intervene. Though I am not sure they will. If everyone did their job well, there will be less misery to go around.

    I have often seen auto wallahs becoming protective if they feel their female charge is in any danger.

  6. 7 vishesh unni raghunathan August 21, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Oh you should try our Chennai autos πŸ™‚ At least they use some sort of meter there πŸ™‚

  7. 8 B K CHOWLA August 21, 2009 at 11:29 am

    There are good and bad people in every society.This ia reality of life.We can not generalise any statement.

  8. 9 hitchwriter August 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    My biwi had a similar tale to tell from Pune… !! she tried the bus instead and got pick pocketed… !!!

    pah…

    but I think the worst Auto drivers I ever encountered are in Chennai… they are the biggest rogues..

    ek to they act as if they will not speak anything other than Tamil and there are lots of hooligans among them… its the most scary place… and specially for women late in the night…

    But than… Humans are different / diverse… we tend to categorise…

    there always are angels and good ones !!!!!

    god bless them and seriously we can do with a few more of them…

  9. 10 Dev August 21, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    See…you have realized that everything cant be generalized. Its not correct to do it.
    I understand that there may be times when it seems very very easy and practical to do this verb called genralization. But there are always 2 side of everything, if not more.
    But may god multiply those who are exceptions to these generalizations…then these exceptions might be able to prove the rule. πŸ˜‰

  10. 11 Hypermom August 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Wow! May your lucky spell continue…
    It’s such a surprise to find a few good ones these days.

    I know B’lore autowallahs are also a much maligned lot-but I still defend them-compared to Delhi-they are really decent.

  11. 12 aniruddha pathak August 21, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    uhh i guess you just have been lucky girl…these instances are very few..i pay anywhere between 70Rs to 45 Rs on my way to office, i am yet to figure out the correct fare..and no i take the same route every day πŸ˜€

  12. 13 Amrit August 21, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I am glad that you had a good experience! Not all auto-wallahs are bad! And my experience in pune has been relatively the best!

    Auto wallahs in chennai are the worst. They will not even talk to you nicely. And for two kms they will ask Rs.50!

  13. 14 dinu August 21, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    exceptions are everywhere …

  14. 16 xylene August 21, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    There are a few honest ones. I have met only one in Bangalore.

  15. 18 Ashish August 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    What do you gift men, by the way, besides clothes, accessories, wallets, cologne?
    What else? An autographed copy of Geek Wrestler’s “How I conquered the world in 80 days”. πŸ˜›

  16. 20 Indian Homemaker August 22, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Try threatening Poonam …say you were going to complain to the police? Not sure if this will work though.

    And the honest autowala was really nice, we do need such affirmations of our faith in some goodness…

  17. 21 Bragadeesh Prasann August 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    “and specially for women late in the night…” I sincerely don agree with this my dear.. You can bet that Chennai is far more safer for women. In central and anna nagar there are several female auto walah’s to help.

    Have you ever used the word “please” and “thanks’ with chennai autowalah’s?? The result will be awesome. Try once.

    Amidst of these things, there were two guys who made our blogger’s day. Lets bless their soul and appreciate the good around us.

    Prasanna.

  18. 22 Bragadeesh Prasann August 22, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I guess, Bangalore was better. I don remember the place, but i came from majestic to some water tank at morning 5 for 200 and to leave in the afternoon, i just had to 56 rs. (acc to meter). You cant find a meter in chennai autos.

  19. 23 Rajkumar August 23, 2009 at 1:25 am

    your blog is very interesting.I like to add you in my blog roll
    I welcome you to my blog,leave your valuable comments and your link back is welcomed……….

  20. 24 praneshachar August 23, 2009 at 6:37 am

    there are meters with both fare and distance new one. meters are different in different places, i was in mumbai and the meters run in units 1 unit is rs.10 my wife and son were looking at them with lot of confusion whether driver will take for ride. but very nice fellow after reaching destination he explained the meter and also asked why they were looking at them so often, once we told the difference btrween meters in banglore and mumbai he was happy.
    yes there are good people everywhere who want to earn and live so they dont want your charity really good people
    there are rules for taking up with police for not plying to your needs etc. etc., but as long as most of the Police are in with these people very difficult to implement.
    in all places there are good bad and ugly. if u get into a trap of bad intentions fellow it is dangerous, if someone plies round and round and takes some extra bucks its okay particularly for ladies familes who are new to the place if they are taken to the correct place its fine.
    when we will have gr8 system where people will take u to your destination without any hiccups take fare as per meter wow that will be a great day. even today few do that remember them always they are true people who live up to their profession.
    have a gar8 day yah its ganesh chaturthis time pune njoy and post your experiences on this great festival in maharashtra
    pranesh

  21. 25 Kiran August 23, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint πŸ™‚

  22. 26 rahul August 23, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    wow..that’s really cool and a refreshing change ..I guess delhi auto wallahs can learn a lot from them!!

    • 27 Poonam Sharma August 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm

      Yes, refreshing change. Exactly my sentiments. Before I came to Pune, I too used to think Delhi autos were worst, but Pune autos are comparable. Really. Here it affects more because autos are only public transport mode, since buses are scanty. In Delhi, at least we have Metro and buses too (even though I never traveled in them) have huge network.

  23. 28 Raj Yadav August 23, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Its not only abt autodrivers, its the culture. We will find cheaters in all walks of life in majority. It is very rare to find a well meaning service provider be it a vegetable vendor or be it reliance store, everywhere they strive to cheat. perhaps our education value system has failed us. I have seen in much maligned western countries having a much better value system than ours in my stay there.

    However personal views totally and many will differ

    • 29 Poonam Sharma August 26, 2009 at 11:36 am

      That’s an interesting observation that west has better values. Though I do agree that honest, a virtue that we should have been able to take for granted in our service provider is no longer possible.

      You must be aware of your own rights.

    • 30 Raj Yadav August 31, 2009 at 10:08 pm

      I know most ppl may not agree and majority due to their commitment to patriotism and demonizing of west by our films etc. They may not have family values and commitments like us but as far as human values are concerned, they fare much better.
      How many Indian rich you see doing charity? Our sportsmen esp cricketers earn 100 times more than western counterparts, but the like of tendulkar always line up to get concessions on custom duty and are never seen doing anything for the society. It requires a Steve Waugh and Bill Clinton to come here and do some work. Ambanis run a school for sake of charity and the annual fees of that charitable school are about 12 lacs.
      I have always found the Westerners donating a percentage of their earnings to charity ( its a custom of sorts) whereas we feel handing over a coin to a beggar is the charity that will take us to Heaven after life and to millionaire-dom in this life. Our culture is too good in theory and too bad in practice. Lots to say but again a controversial topic to discuss here.

  24. 31 Harsh August 23, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    One auto-rickshaw , 9 passengers and a driver … and thats a normal auto rickshaw I am talking about … thats how it goes here in Ghaziabad …. reminds me of the old school days .. πŸ˜› …

    you must be really lucky to find an angel in form of a rickshaw … I personally had many gruesome experiences with these autorickshaws … 😑

  25. 33 Rajkumar August 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    your blog looks so interesting and a very good time pass,i welcome you to my blog and leave your valuable comments,i like to add you in blog roll.
    may i get a place in your blog roll….

  26. 34 Vimmuuu August 24, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    There are a lot of rotten ones that spoils the good will of the rest. In Kerala, most of the auto drivers are honest and do not cheat you, atleast I havnt come across any such situations. But you have to be very careful getting into a rick in chennai, or any part of Tamil Nadu for that matter ! They squeeze you like crazy and they come up with all stupid reasons for their manipulated fare.

    Im not aware of any tips, but I always arrive at a deal with the auto driver about the fare before getting inside his rick. I mean, thats what we all do here in chennai !

    and what to buy for men??? Watches, playstations or the likes, DVDs, sports accessories (doesnt work for me though), and oh oh, the best one would be a gift voucher that has the validity for almost an year (By the time we go for shopping, it will be almost an year, thats why)!

  27. 35 lifeofhues August 24, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    What do you gift men, by the way, besides clothes, accessories, wallets, cologne?

    Try DVDs, Music CDs, iPod, books, stuff to keep on his desk in office, pens etc.

  28. 36 Smita August 24, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    lol!! I guess it was your good day!!!

    When I was in Ahmedabad I had to use the ricks a lot so what I did was a got hold of the rate card (you can get it at the bus stand they say)and after that I was never duped!!!

    You know I have a friend who always picked up a fight with the auto rickwallaha’s and always suspected them, I on the other hand usually talk to them as to where they are from and I trust them (usually).

    Guess all the professions have a share of good people & bad people so it is all on your luck that day πŸ™‚

  29. 37 Soham August 26, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I hv found that Mumbai Autowallas are very honest when it comes to fare and all // But taxiwallas are morons ..

    By the way,

    U can gift Cricket Bat to men .. I think for me that’s the best gift .. !!

  30. 38 amreekandesi August 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Isnt it just awesome to meet people like these? Exactly the sort of thing needed to reinforce your faith in the goodness of mankind, in the midst of all the people out to take you for a ride!

    (Sounds like you are having a very adventurous time in Pune. Take care, and stay safe!)

  31. 39 Nova September 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Hey Poonam

    Nice to reconnect with your blog πŸ™‚

    Yes, some autowallahs are so amazing, its awesome πŸ™‚

  32. 40 Titaxy September 8, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    oh that was so nice of him :-)…there are good people all around πŸ™‚

  33. 41 Chikki September 18, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Oh! Pune’s autowallah’s are ok..You should try some Bangalore ones – you will almost get a shock of your life!! They are sort of inhumans!!


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