Autos come in many shapes and sizes. And really, it doesn’t matter whether I love them or hate them. They definitely don’t give me a chance to ignore them.
From before the start of the journey, when I am still undecided about whether to take an auto or not while autos slow down and honk, tempting me to just take one; to the point where the compulsive need to bargain sets in, to gain a victory over ten rupees with a stranger (a victory which, at that instant, threatens to make or break my day), autos are omnipresent. From the nail biting, adrenaline powered, nonstop ride through the otherwise still traffic, the possibility of discovering short cuts that actually work (and which, on my own would tend to end up as long detours) to the conversations that start up at times when the driver tends to be a chatty chap, autos are a mainstay of Chennai roads.
But there have also been instances when the auto chugs along so slowly that I inwardly cry at being late for an appointment and wonder whether I should have just walked the whole distance (These are times in which my brain subconsciously starts calculating the real possibility of reaching the place earlier based on Olympic marathon timings and distances and then realizes on its own that sports and me are light years apart). And another instance where I literally ran all the way home after a quarrel with an auto driver because I thought he was following me (Well, he dropped me off halfway, refused to charge any fare for the distance covered and started off in a huff for no reason whatsoever. But I’m not too sure if this was just a case of my imagination running wild, but it was late and the eerie streetlights, the long shadows of trees and a deserted road did nothing to help. One can’t be too careful these days I guess).
On yet other times, I find autos to be just lively elements on the street – a gathering point for conversations, a collage of political stickers and messages, or a collective tribute to movie stars and even social service (see here for an article on the same). And sometimes, as featured in the illustration above, just something that offers a little shade on a sunny afternoon and some good music to lull its driver to sleep.
What are your thoughts on autos? Leave a comment below!