Meter Down

I have lived equally in Madras and Bombay and each of these cities have their own charms but don’t ask me which I find better. I won’t be a part of that debate; but however a Madrasi will always speak highly of their time spent in Bombay but not the case otherwise unless you are courting an Iyer girl and taking out her father for a tumbler of coffee.

Talking about the cities one thing that absolutely captures my attention is the auto-rickshaws. They are indispensable to both cities but the ones in Chennai are far more amusing than the ones you would find in Bombay. Some of my anecdotal experiences below

ALPA ( Autowallah Longest Path Algorithm):

As if with a sense of antipathy to Djikstras (’s_algorithm) the auto drivers in Chennai operate by this cardinal rule for their livelihood. No matter how close the destination, they will always find a longest way to reach there.  And if you are smart enough to realize that the auto driver is taking you for a ride (literally) he will give excuses which are hard to dispute such as the road is dug up or that the traffic is horrible in that street. There is a reason why a question such as “Show me a road in Chennai which isn’t ridden with potholes or does not suffer from traffic” is considered rhetorical.

No meter only Peter

Fare Meter:Autos::Appendix:Human Body

 Meters on the autos are of no use but yet they are protected with and off hand limits as the meters would have the sign “Don’t touch the meter” on it, a clear indication in itself that they have been tampered with. If you ask them why they don’t charge by the meter, Be prepared for this dialogue

You look educated

Now that is the impression that thousands of engineering colleges in Chennai aspire to produce but don’t necessarily succeed. However this question is rhetorical, it questions your ability to sympathize, be aware of the fuel price and be willing to spend more than you intended to at the same time.

This also extends to something that has annoyed me to a lot of things. Why do elders, policemen and moms tie everything to education?

Is this what they teach you at school?

No I learned it on my own. It’s a myth that Intelligence, common sense and good behavior aren’t cumulative results of continuing education.

Its elementary Watson

Most autowallah’s are masters at deduction. It is easy to construe an image from the attire and apparel of a person who seeks an auto. If you want to make a mark at a social gathering go in an auto. The guy arriving in a Mercedes SLR would get less attention than you, that is how exorbitant the auto fares are in Chennai.

Following is an order in which you will be screwed in no order

  • If you call out in English: Prepared to be screwed, auto drivers are the last of the Mohicans in this case. They still carry despise for any one uttering the Victorian language of Queen.
  • If you wear an ID: General tip, take off your ID especially if you work for an IT firm before you hire an auto. It is of no use anyway outside the office and definitely you don’t want to compete with being the bigger social prick. It is a title deferred to the MBBS students who wear their White coats outside of med schools.
  • If you speak hindi: Apply (a) in this case only with reserved hatred for our brothers from North. Considerably less than what the Shiv sena harbors though.

Diversion Ahead

I was once amused when my friend switched his parking lights in the parking lot even when there were a grand total of 0cars nearby.It reminded me of the way in which auto wallahs in Chennai would indicate to the less fortunate drivers behind them on the street.

A hawai chappal, a hand stretching out and being taken back within seconds and a whistle in the moving direction all count as veritable indications of change of direction.

Where is the indicator light you ask?

Read 1.

I personally think Francesco Schettino (The famous Italian captain) was inspired by our auto drivers but digressed a little while putting the act to practice.

What he thought he could pull off


What it resulted in?


Pop philosophy

Customizing an auto by decoration is akin to trying to hire an interior decorator to beautify 1 bhk in Mumbai.  It is ridiculously small. But some of them do manage to pull off something like good speaker which will make sure that the ear wax from your ears are thinned in the process or a creepy Indian actress smiling at you with a rose or lighting which would resemble a dilapidated Persian night club.

And the ones who cannot afford the luxury would have pearls of wisdom on their back like

  • A girl’s marriageable age is 21.(Not in this economy stupid)
  • Free ride for pregnant woman
  • Some quote on failed love or why girls are not to be trusted in matters of heart.

What do you mean no space?

How many fat people can you squeeze up in an area of 3 x 3 feet? The winning answer goes to the driver of a share auto.


Never ask him where is the space to accommodate you? He would either ask you to sit in the driver’s seat in a very suggestive posture or ask you to sit in a posture seeing which even Baba Ramdev would go “Fuck me mate, even I can’t pull that off”!

Say what I may about autos in Chennai, they are facets who are irreplaceable and I miss them very much because Avanga appdi than!(They are like that only)



8 thoughts on “Meter Down

  1. longest path algorithm is NP-Complete …. so an autowallah will have to be a mini supercomputer to fool you by the optimal margin for medium/long rides 😛

  2. I LOVED this piece, like really! 🙂 You have a very witty and entertaining style of expressing even the most boring themes…Of course, when it comes to autos and their meters, few things have more layers of interest. 🙂

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