If you have been living in Bangalore for a while, you know what a nightmarish experience dealing with autowallahs can be. I blame many of them for my frustration, anger, and angst. And for a while, this was my daily dose of the negative for the day. Firstly, they refuse to go pretty much anywhere at all; secondly, they dare to charge such a ridiculous amount that you end up laughing at the absurdity of the expectation; thirdly, if at all you do agree to pay the lower end of the ridiculous scale they might charge, you are still not guaranteed a comfortable and safe ride. Most of the autowallahs I have travelled with have been rash, have pretty much harassed women on streets my braking only within an inch of woman’s scooter, have honked non-stop on empty patches, have coughed and spat on the road, have played loud music, have given me the creepy stare through the rearview mirror, and I can keep going.
So you can imagine my excitement when I met an autowallah who not only didn’t scare me, but later made me regret not having asked his name and told him that he was an awesome human being.
I generally take the shuttle to and from office, but once a week or so, I return home earlier in an auto. It can be quite an ordeal given that it takes a minimum of an hour to reach home. I always factor in outright denial to go, extra charges, tricky seat, etc.
Last week, it was different. The awesome autowallah in question agreed to go where I wanted to without a question or whining. He started the meter as soon as I got in. He had no loud music, he didn’t think that his life and prestige depended on almost killing several people on the road. He was incredibly calm and poised. He did not race or honk. He did not overtake any vehicle. He let most vehicles pass by amiably. We then stopped at a signal where he stepped out, walked to a nearby tree, and then lit a cigarette. He had the decency to not smoke all over my face. Next, he gave some change to a beggar at the next signal. When we had almost reached my home, he asked me if I would mind if he stopped for a coffee because some bakery nearby apparently served the best coffee. I asked him to go ahead. He insisted that I have some. I politely refused and asked him to go for it. He still insisted some more and got me a cup. That too, free!!! I then told him that the coffee was awesome, which it truly was. I then reached home 5 mins later. The meter showed Rs. 187. A little less than it normally does. I handed him a 200. He actually tried to return exactly Rs. 13, which I of course refused. I generally do pay a Rs. 10 extra. I wanted to pay some more for the coffee, but I thought that would be an insult to his generous spirit.
Seriously, I think I’ll be cherishing this memory for ever, because believe me, this NEVER happens. I have met morons whom I have already agreed to pay Rs. 20 extra, and have yet thought it perfectly fine to not return the additional 7-8 rupees in change. One gentleman kept staring at me when the meter showed 32, I handed 60, and he thought I didn’t want the additional 8. I actually told him I was waiting for the change. The nerve!
Plus the man looked a bit like Anurag Kashyap with a plump face and slightly greying beard and hair. That look itself makes me feel safe like I am in the company of some warm-hearted mama (mother’s brother). I’m sure it’s just all in my head, but still, this time, it proved my belief right. 😀