The Autowalas of Delhi

Yeh Delhi hai mere yaar! Wanna get the feel of Dilli 6? Grab an autorickshaw and head to the nearest monument. There are so many in Delhi. If you are near Nizamuddin, you could head to Humayun’s Tomb or the Nizamuddin Dargah. If you are in South Delhi, reaching the Qutb Minar would take you the same time from almost anywhere. The first thing they ask you is ‘road kekis side utarnahai’? ‘which side of the road are you going to get down on?’ Then depending on how far the next U-turn or the place from where they’ll get the next commuter , they’ll quote a fare. Rarely, will you come across someone who will be ready to put the meter down.

If you are a girl, you’ll see the rear view mirror turn towards you. Get ready to be checked out throughout the ride. If you are a boy, well, depends! As you look at the interiors of the auto, you’ll see weirdest of newspaper cut outs, magazines and cards. Most of them are big time movie buffs, so you’ll notice pictures of all Bollywood actresses. From BipashaBasu to AishwaryaRai, everyone gets her due space. Some of them are religious and prefer postcards of gods and goddesses instead. Some would put the radio on and get ready to get your ear drums tortured amongst all the traffic noise. The screechy Himesh Reshammiya voice will make you want to meet with an accident right away.

At red lights, some might even step out with a cloth and start cleaning the windshield. Some are always humming a folk tune and suddenly you hear a spit! And you discover this one chews betel leaves. Some have the capacity to even light a bidi or a cigarette and continue the ride. You can’t really blame them because smokers never take their permission before lighting smokes in their autos. But trust me, your experiences with auto walas can get way deadlier than that. Some might be over talkative (especially with girls) and would make you pull your hair out. And how can I not talk about the most irritating habit. They would park the auto at a side and attend to their girlfriend’s call! (and talk at the highest pitch of their voice)

The worst is when you are getting late for that crucial meeting and the auto guy veers into the CNG gas station.`Gas toh dalni padegina”, he says. It’s a long queue at the station and as per the rule the autos cannot have a passenger when it’s getting filled. So you have to stand outside in the scorching heat.

But at the end of the day we do owe a lot to these guys. Shelling out 600 rupees  everyday for a Cab to our office just doesn’t suit our pockets and the budget. The good old auto wala will do it for less than a hundred and with free air thrown in. If there is a jam, these are the only chaps on the road you can trust. Before you begin to crib looking at  the huge traffic snarl in front of you they will twist and anyhow manage to find some patli gali away from the mess and take you straight to your office on time. So make the most of this ride and have a ‘fresh’ view of Delhi or saddi Dilli 6!

Gunjan Sawhney