A Bangalore Autowala’s Invoice

I moved to Bangalore in 2011, and was pleasantly surprised when I saw that wherever I took a rick to in the city, I had to pay only metre fare. For someone who hails from Chennai, this was Paradise!! Little did I know that that was exactly why I had to pay metre fare: I was travelling in the city. After a while I moved into my aunt’s home in Whitefield. And autowalas there seldom used the metre. Outskirts, you see. I had to rely on these opportunists-by-birth more than I was ready to, as my workplace is a good 16 kms away from there and I had to switch three buses to get there.  When I later moved to Koramangala, I discovered to my dismay that you had to pay one and a half times the metre fare if you wanted to take an auto rickshaw to anywhere, after 9 PM (until then I had been paying for my rides through my nose anyway, so I didn’t care). And if you happen to be in what is “city” as per the auto fellow’s map of the Garden City, and the time on your watch is far away from 9 PM, there are these other extra charges the auto guy would like you to pay for his esteemed service:

“Ippathu/Hathu rupai extra kodi.”
Translation: “Pay an extra twenty/ten bucks.”
When is this line used? Mornings, when he thinks you are in a hurry to get to wherever you are heading to. You pay an extra 20 bucks just to reach somewhere on time. Or maybe because you don’t speak Kannada, and he is hoping you will mistake “ippathu” which means “twenty” for “hathu” which means “ten” (happens to a friend of mine on a regular basis). Or maybe he’s having a case of severe acidity and the misfortune of not robbing an IT employee of those golden 10 bucks will aggravate his suffering.

“Metre double aagathe… Vaapas kaali barbeku”
Translation: “You will have to pay double the fare.. I won’t get a ride on the way back.”
He essentially means that he won’t get a “savaari” after he has dropped you at your destination. So you get to pay him for the ride he (supposedly) would never get. You pay him double the actual fare (sob, sob) and end up feeling like a saint… Or… A pauper. Oh, and he will get a bakra on the way back. You should just let the guy go. There’s always another auto guy waiting to rob you, and they all have different slab rates. And temperaments. Trust your negotiation skills!

“1000 Rupees kodi… “
That doesn’t require a translation. I swear these people do that. This happens in the wee hours of the morning. And for shorter distances, the minimum fare is 100 rupees. Not convinced? Try this:

  1. Get down at Madiwala from an early morning Chennai-Bangalore bus
  2. Talk to them in Hindi/Tamil/anything that is not Kannada
  3. Tell them you want to go to Race Course Road
  4. Voila! They will ask you to pay 1000 bucks. Or more!!

“150 kodi… “
 If you look shocked at the cruelty…
“U-turn thago baeku…” (the humble, trying-to-reason-with-you tone)
Because taking a U-turn causes physical and psychological stress to the autowala. He actually goes in for a week of therapy with the psychiatrist specifically appointed for such cases by the auto guys’ association. The U-turn charge is always 50 bucks over and above the metre fare.

“Sakkath jam aagidhe… 20 rupees extra kodi…” 
Translation: “Too much traffic jam. Pay me an extra 20 bucks.”
Usually brought up mid-journey and obviously when stuck in traffic, this one’s the easiest to shoot down. You need to puff up like an angry owl and glare at him while reproaching him for asking you to pay extra after you got in. Somehow it hits a nerve and almost always they decide to drop the negotiation and stick to the originally agreed-upon fare, albeit looking like a kid whose candy has been snatched away.

“Whitefield ah? :O”
If you get asked this question, know that you are going to pay all the aforesaid charges. Anywhere outside the auto guy’s “city” limits is a nightmare for him. “Ashtu dhoora hogbeku madam” (We have to go so far); please check your wallet and make sure you don’t have to look for an ATM once you get off the auto!

(Image flicked from here.)

Published by Kirthika Soundararajan

Journalism student. Loves animals. Aspires to write about history, art, culture, and people.

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