Thursday, October 28, 2010

My addiction to auto-travelling is due to many reasons.
1. I am driving-challenged.
2. I have arthritis and cannot board buses.
3.I hate waiting for buses.
Since I am a seasoned auto-traveller, I feel I am highly qualified to advise people on the rules to follow .
You must know that auto drivers follow Newton's First Law of Motion :viz(I love the word viz- it is now becoming extinct)An object continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.
Hence never disturb a sleeping/gossipping auto driver-they have increased the auto fares mainly so that they have more time to relax.
Autos are uni-directional- they wish to continue travelling in the same direction until they come to a dead-end,so never ever ask them to turn around.
They hate U-turns.This I have found out, applies to all auto drivers. Unfortunately we have to take a U-turn to reach our house.The auto drivers either tell us U-turns are not allowed, which we rubbish loudly, or grumble so much our day is ruined.
They never have small change.They are experts in approximations. They always round off the fare to the nearest tens.They hate people who produce the exact change,

One should be careful about airing one's political views while travelling in an auto.Even if you are airing it only to your captive audience-your co-passenger-remember that Big Brother is watching you.If the auto driver's political affiliations are radically opposed to yours, you might find yourself suddenly and unceremoniously thrown out.
Never talk religious sentiments.The Driver's ID might say he is A clean shaven Nanje Gowda but the driver might be a bearded Abdul Gafoor.
The inscriptions on the back generally give you a lot of information about the driver.Unfortunately you can only read the inscriptions on other people's autos."Swetha- Swaroop' Happy small family .Appa ammana ashirwada-Parents have paid for the auto- willingly or unwillingly.Rajkumar's photo- better speak shudh kannada or else.
A couple of days I autoed to Avenue Road in the evening. Wrong time. wronger place to be in,but couldn't be helped. We tried to catch an auto to return home. A stream of empty autos went past, refusing every 'sawari'.They all turned left, and stood in a line.All this with a humungous Hoysala parked right there!I went up to the inspector .seething with righteous indignation and complained. The inspector immediately took up his walkie-talkie and bellowed to his assistants to"get Madam an auto".The whole of Avenue Road froze for a moment and then you could see a lot of autos running for their dear lives from the vicinity.But for one or two of them it was too late, The assistant nabbed one and hollered for the madam ,and immediately a lot of impostors swarmed around him.We got into the auto and heaved a sigh of relief-too soon.The auto driver travelled a few yards to be outside the purview of the Hoysala and stopped.The driver demanded that we should pay extra -Pray,why, demanded my husband-for the time wasted in the peak hour traffic replied the driver.A heated argument ensued. Meanwhile I was busy taking down the the number of the auto.I switched on the camera in the cellphone and clicked a few bad mug shots of the scene. The driver caught on and started the auto, He took us home in the most circuitous route and dumped us in front of our home unceremoniously.I scuttled out of the auto like a frightened cockroach , glad to be in ine piece.
And last but not least, always pray while travelling in an auto--pray that the driver has had a good breakfast, doesn't have acidity,or a nagging wife,hasn't been jilted by his girlfriend-or just chant a shloka or take a valium.
If all fails,do not despair==the metro will soon be here!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pedestrian woes

Being a pedestrian in the world of snazzy cars, scooters, motorbikes, scootys , and bicycles is a tough job. If you are a NRI and a pedestrian by choice in India(My God!!Drive in Bengalooru traffic! Never!) you get sympathetic and respectful nods. But a desi pedestrian has a tough time.

FAQs for the regular pedestrian :

1. How do you ever get around, ajji,(when I haven't dyed my hair) or aunty (when I have )....
Answer : This one is tough. Yes auto fares have gone through the roof and my arthritic knees protest when I clamber on buses. Add to this drivers who start the bus when I am still on the footboard,"Ajji, we don't have all day, climb fast" and it is a major problem.

2.How do you ever cross the roads?
Answer : Crossing the roads is not a major problem. you go to the zebra crossing and pretend to never look at the voluminous traffic. The pedestrian lights bleeps for exactly 25 seconds which you can manage if you are either a star sprinter or if you can fly. If you are neither ,just cross the road after taking a deep breath and reciting prayers. Have deep faith in the karma theory or chant 'Que sera sera'.
Look sternly at any driver who is revving the engine threateningly. Alternately, if there is a policeman around, you can get into an argument as to how it is impossible to cross the road so fast. they generally guide you across the road and they will glare at the drivers for you.

Another good option is to pretend you are an ambulance and bleep furiously and cross. The drivers then will either really think you are a human ambulance or that you are an escaped lunatic (after all Nimhans is really closeby) and let you cross the road.

If all else fails , keep all your transactions on your side of the road. Choose the friendly neighbourhood bank on the same side of the road.

I was trying to cross Southend Road the other day , when I saw a senior citizen in the middle of the road , with the traffic whizzing past , The poor man had a neck problem and could turn his head only in one direction.He had managed to cross half the road , by turning right, but was now unhappily stranded in the middle of the road, I bravely went to his rescue, following all the aforesaid rules and helped him. I could already see the halo around my head. He thanked me profusely and said, "You can cross the samsara sagara , but not a Bengalooru road"!!

3.Do you have to depend on others to ferry you around?
Answer : This option actually saves a lot of headaches. Depute work.. cos, well, they can use a vehicle and you can't.

4.Can you do multiple tasks in a day?
What multitasking? Those days are over. In this day and age, if you can survive crossing the road even once a day- your job for the day is done.

And with that we come to the end of our Q & A session. For any further questions or complaints on road safety and best practices for pedestrians - well there's nothing you can do ....go back to chanting your favorite prayer and take the first step in good faith.