I happen to go to Chennai pretty often as my parents are put up there. I usually take a bus from the station to my home, but sometimes am forced to take an auto, as it was this time, due to excess luggage.
Outside the railway station in Chennai, one can see auto drivers flanking people offering their services at an exorbitant rate. As some are unaware of the unfair prices these drivers quote, they unknowingly get fleeced; some who are aware of the ways of the “world” tend to take a bus to their destination; some others take a prepaid auto which has been introduced recently. These prepaid autos are a breath of fresh air for people like me as the fares are fair to some extent.
As usual many rick drivers started chasing me literally quoting a quarter of the price of my bike..! [ this is some exaggeration ] and obviously I declined all of them. Then finally the protagonist of my misadventure turned up, seemed obviously out of place [for a Chennai auto driver that is ]. He was very un-‘Chennai-auto-driver’ish; that is being courteous, helping me load the baggage into the rick, and no language. This thoroughly took me by surprise as I never expect this from any auto-driver, leave alone one in Chennai. He quoted a fair price to drop me off pretty close to my doorstep and we were off, after some bargaining [unwritten rule for all auto passengers there].
As we were percolating through the busy streets of the city, more surprise was in store for me as this guy was following all the traffic rules properly, not skipping a signal, staying within the line, showing hand signal before stopping [this was the limit..!] I couldn’t refrain myself from asking him if he was new to Chennai..! He was 12 yrs old. He also added that one could expect people to follow rules only if he/she individually did follow them. Finally someone who shares my view I thought..!
Halfway through my journey, my already rich Tamil vocabulary [(unparliamentary vocab) due to repeated visits and movies of course] was subjected to a lot of improvement as our protagonist started showing his true colours by yelling at the other commuters who weren’t following the rules as such [you wouldn’t be surprised if you are a Chennai-ite and neither was I] To top it all, we arrived at an accident spot involving an Indica and a Pulsar, head on collision at the middle of the road. One motorist, with a pretty pillion, who I presume to be his girlfriend, nudged his way through the waiting commuters to go in-between the Pulsar and the victimized Indica. This was it. The fuel had been added to the fire. Our protagonist started the auto and whirred towards the accident area and stopped adjacent to the erring motorist. One abuse after another, they kept coming on and on, many of which I dint know. After putting my consoling abilities to maximum use and getting an earful from the others at the scene, both the ‘fighters’ resumed their respective journeys.
After some time, we were at the place where he was supposed to drop me [about 150m from home]. I paid up the amount for which he dint have change. All my efforts to get change from the nearby shops went in vain. I told him to wait at the same place until I get change from home, for which he told me to leave my baggage in the auto. This was obviously risky, as it had all my clothes and also my digicam. He wasn’t convinced and started his whimsical abusive verbose. I also showered some of those I knew, at the same time being careful not to use very bad ones. Finally I had to give in to his demand. He said he’d drop me at my doorstep but I ll have to give 30 rupees extra..! he dropped me as he said, I gave him Rs.20 extra which attracted a “Go hang yourself” kind of a slogan from him [Thank God I didn’t hear it properly] . I told myself- WELCOME TO CHENNAI.