Monday, August 9, 2010
Commuters' strike: I am participating
Did u people read Quadros' interview in the Mumbai Mirror: (He is the auto-drivers union leader). He says auto drivers are not slaves and they are also human or other such sympathy-milking statement. I do not think at all, for one moment, any commuter treats an auto driver as a slave. On the contrary, most of these fellows, with the biggest chip on their shoulders about the rest of the world, treat commuters like shit. I believe union leaders, like political parties, must create the idea of `the evil other' against whom they will protect you. For long, political parties in India have thrived on dividing and ruling, and are still thriving on that unbeatable formula that they inherited from the British. So, I am not surprised Quadros is making out like commuters are the evil ones who are making unnatural demands (He says what if the poor auto driver must sign off, or may have a problem at home..It seems 99 per cent of the auto-drivers are suffering some such malaise day in and day out. 24 X7 ?) .
Though I hate the idea of contributing to global warming by taking an auto (does a gas-cylinder auto also contribute to that?) instead of the BEST bus or the sardine-can trains, I still do it because commuting by public transport is becoming hell in Mumbai (The Borivli station has become a knee-breaking maze for me) I have been resorting to autos to go to Kandivli for music classes. Fare comes to a whopping amount.. which I won't reveal..
But the last one month I have discovered the worst side of auto drivers:
On every route, to-and-fro -- and I am not exaggerating, they would agree to come, then mid-way, they will flag another auto down and tell me, some even acting with tears in t heir eyes(!!), that the brake is broken, something is cracked up, they are on reserve and whatever else they mumble ...
I realised the pattern: since the traffic police drive against auto-drivers has become strict, these fellows are making up this ruse, so somebody who looks militant like (note those muscles?) does not call the police control room to complain .. otherwise how come on six trips continuously I have been dropped midway and shoved into another auto?
So now, before getting into an auto I tell them that this trick has been played out before me and so to kindly spare me a repeat... Its been working, touchwood. I have gone in one auto for the entire trip ..
However, before that, once, I had to change thrice!!! On the second leg of this eventful journey, this auto driver suddenly says he won't come to Pali because I said Linking Road before I said Pali. What!! I told him that some northern suburban auto-drivers do not know where Pali is, so when you board an auto you give them the destination broadly (Like Bandra West, Or Linking Road) then lead them more specificially to the exact location. And Pali Village is off Linking Road, it is two shops off KFC, yet this fellow says he won't turn right to take me to my home because I had said Linking Road first. He said I was doing a BIG WRONG!! (I think you can guess where this sort of behavior comes from -- the sort of propaganda which keeps drumming into their heads that they are the victims of the commuters and must be protected from them? Otherwise what would union leaders do for a living?) So I completely forgot that I am aspiring for monkhood and world peace, then bristled and told him to stop the auto. I told him:" Please stop. I rather walk then travel in the vehicle of an adharmic person like you... Here is your money." Then I walked a long long while in anger at my own anger, stomping to cool it off, before I flagged another auto driver.
And btw. If you are smart enough to buy your own auto meter fare card, you will catch on that it is very different from what they have. The auto fare on their meter is a round figure. For instance, if the meter comes to 178, it wil show 180 and so on... This is something Value Added Tax, I guess. If hotels do it, why not poor driven auto fellows who just want to say they are not slaves?
What happened to my beautiful Mumbai of yore, where auto drivers gave back money, or often told you to keep the change (if you did not have one buck, they will say, chalta hai!!). I used to love Mumbai for its auto drivers. But Chennai is worse, a nightmare .. Delhi as bad I suppose. So I guess I am destined to put up with autowallah's khunnas and forget I have any rights of my own...