I land in Bangalore at exactly 6:30 AM. Now when I mean “land” I mean the Volvo smoothly came to a halt at Koramangala (or so I was told as I have no idea about the whereabouts in Bengaluru). The moment I got down from the bus, 5 auto drivers swooped in on me each one vying for my luggage. I was indeed thrilled by the hospitality. I was like “Damn these guys are so helpful!” Finally one among the 5 won the battle & guided me to his chariot. “Forum Mall” I said. “No problem banni banni(come come)” He said. I sat in the auto & he started off & I realised that the meter wasn’t down. “Meter meter” I said. He turned rudely all of a sudden & said “What meter at 6:30 AM”. Ok so I asked him how much it would cost me. He said 80 bucks. Now I remember my wife(she knows Bengaluru a lot better than me ) telling me back home that the bus stop would be very close, probably about 10 mins from the mall so I am pretty sure that it wouldn’t cost 80 bucks. I argued with him & he argued back. He told me I could leave the auto very well knowing that I would be helpless with 2 bags, not knowing the place & no other auto driver willing to help me as they too would be one of his lakeys.
Now how many of you would have had similar experiences. I’m sure anyone who’s travelled outside his home town in a new place would have to encounter such experiences. My friend who stays in Bangalore itself has to face this on a daily basis so what am I? And how helpless do you feel? Imagine we are Indians & we ourselves struggle. Then what about foreigners who visit our country. These guys rip them apart. And no wonder people have so few good things to talk about us. Has this issue ever been raised in a major way?
One of my friends who visited Delhi recently told me of a similar incident where their hotel was 200 meters away but they didn’t know it. They asked one of the auto guys & he said 50 bucks. Imagine the horror on my friends face when the auto stops 1 minute later in front of their hotel. When he stared at the driver , he just shrugged his shoulders. He began to argue with the driver, 5 to 6 other drivers came & surrounded him. Now what can he do in a strange new land? He paid up & walked away.
And they manage to get away with all this. Everyone is talking of corruption. We talk about ministers, businessmen , government officials being corrupt. Aamir Khan even went on to the extent of calling us doctors corrupt. But why doesn’t anyone say anything about this “stealing in broad daylight” & that too EVERYDAY!!! Why wont anyone take any actions. The problem is that the locals are too busy to get involved in this as they just want to finish off their daily routine as soon as possible & outsiders are just too helpless to do anything. There are no helplines to call, police will shoo away such complaints & the so called “prepaid auto stands” are a farce because there have been instances when the auto driver demands more money on the way to the destination saying “road is not good, traffic is diverted, people in the prepaid auto stands don’t know this”
In one week I have had 2 such experiences. The 2nd time I clicked the drivers & his auto picture. I don’t really know why I did that, I was just plain angry. He ran away when he realised what I was doing & hence the blurred picture. I just wish I could put up the picture somewhere where it would help this matter. Maybe a facebook page where everyone can contribute in a similar manner. But all this is of no use till some action is taken against these guys.