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Auto Experience

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by jayasala42, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    Living in Chennai for the past 55 years has taught me enough.In 1950s there were more rickshaws pulled by men.We were pained to see human beings pulling people with luggages for petty amount of 6 Annas.

    Then came cycle rickshaws ,soon replaced by Autos.
    You have to be street smart to bargain with automen in Chennai.Metre?-where is it? It is no longer relevant.For a short distance of three Km, he would start from Rs 100/ and sometimes he would never come down. Depending on urgency, we paid whatever demanded.
    My sambandhi mama has never travelled in auto without quarrelling with the driver. Sometimes he has landed in police stations.

    I have read about stealing, chain snatching raping etc by auto drivers. But fortunately I didn't have any bad experience of any sort.

    An auto driver was kind enough to hand over the bag with laptop left by my son in the back seat at my home and refused to accept any money.
    In 1968, one hot afternoon , after finishing shopping I got an auto in T. Nagar. A small girl aged 4 was sleeping inside. The auto man told that " Namma Papa thaan. Erunga.' Since it was child I didn't raise any objection.After 5 mts the child got up.
    On coming home, I gave the charges to auto man,He asked the child to get down and helped me take my things out. As the child was standing out, the driver simply drove off the vehicle.I shouted and shouted, in vain. In those days there were only two houses in the street. All the plots were vacant.
    My husband had already returned home from office.My MIL had gone to Tiruchy . I had a generous dosage of abuses from my husband. He said I should not have opted to engage an auto with a third unknown person, ( even if it were a child).He felt that the auto driver would have stolen chain or anklet from the baby .
    Phone less days.The child had no uniform.Somehow she was able to name the school in some indistinct Telugu.We went to 4 or 5 kindergarten schools in T. Nagar. The child pointed out one school as hers.There was no responsible person to answer. One of the senior girls in the playground said that the child was living in her street.But we were not convinced. The principal residing in Saidapet was called and we narrated everything.She too was unable to identify the child.The senior girl was asked to fetch the parents who turned up at 6. 30.
    It seems that the automan would pick up the child and leave her at the door steps in the after noon.The child would wait at the stair case landing, take snacks kept by her parents thereat Around 6P. M. one of the parents would return to take the baby in. On the particular day, regular automan was absent and has entrusted the job to some other automan.This child has entered some auto and started sleeping.
    The principal without believing the parents asked them to bring the identity badge of the child and thereafter handed over the child in our presence.- with a strict warning to the parents ,who profusely thanked us.On our return again my husband warned me again ," had I not got into the auto with the baby, we would not have got so much tensed.All the doubts we had now,should have risen in my mind before getting into the vehicle.
    It was a great lesson in life.

    I do not know whether the parents would have traced the child at all, had we not taken steps to go to school.

    Handing over the child in police station might have resulted in a great nuisance.

    One early morning some time in 2014, on reaching Central Station , I engaged an Auto to go home.
    The Auto driver (forgot the name) appeared to be a well informed person. I struck a conversation with him enquiring about competition that he faced from call taxis. He admitted that it was tough but was confident that autos would survive. While he pointed out the short life of call taxi companies like Bharathi, NTL, Friends etc. he was confident that Autos would survive.
    Suddenly he asked me whether I knew the meaning of " Auto".
    I said "No".I was under the impression that it was some name associated with automobiles.
    He surprised me with his explanation.
    " During the British Rule, medicines were transported to hospitals from the Central medical Depots initially by hand pulled rickshaws, then by peddaled tricycle rickshaws.
    At that time an enterprising Sardar from Jallandar fixed a motor to the cycle rickshaw which was used to draw water. After making innovative alterations to the vehicle,it was faster & could carry heavier loads.

    So, the British Government Invested in more such motorised vehicles to transport urgent life saving medicines to hospitals.
    These were called "An Urgent Transport Option".
    The AUTO became very popular and slowly they were used for various other purposes including transporting passengers.
    Over the period, this was modified technically and in appearance."
    I realised that to gain knowledge, one has to keep one's eyes and ears open always because we never know from where it comes to us.

    Interesting expansion. Many taxi/auto drivers, once they find their clients receptive, share information and even news which we would not come across in the normal course. Mobile is affecting such interaction also.

    Jayasala 42
     
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  2. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan Finest Post Winner

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    :hello:Quite interesting and entertaining. So AUTO is an anagram. Thanks for sharing it.
    2. though it is heard chennai auto is world famous, yet we have come across auto drivers with helpful attitude and even advertised that THEY WOULD GIVE FREERIDE TO PREGNANT WOMEN NEEDING TO GO TO HOSPITAL FOR DELIVERY.
    NEAR TIDALPARK AN AUTO IS Available with wifi and charger and day’ s news paper and other weekly fortnightlies. On national holidays ride is totally free. Would even play music of hirer’s choice.
    3. They act as samaritans in difficult situations. A purse was lost in an auto at around 10 a.m. a call came around 12 p.m. to come and collect. My son in law was asked to collect as the spot intimated by auto driver was close to his office. At 2 p.m. my son in law came home and delivered it to me.
    4. While return from marriage mhurtham, my parents in auto met with accident. The vehicle damaged. But the auto driver took my injured parents to the nearest hospital and both were admitted and telephoned to me. For almost ten days they were in hospital and daily morning and evening he came to enquire their progress. He lost his earnings and vehicle damaged and police dragged him to court as his auto collided with a private car. Police told me to lodge complaint against driver and promised he would arrange to get me compensation! I said big no to him.
    5. Auto drivers as a tribe now a days seemed to have turned over a new leaf. I am happy about them.
    Regards.
    God bless all autos.
     
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  3. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear JS ma'am,

    You never stop to surprise me with the various experiences from your life. The story of that young girl is amazing! I did not know that AUTO was an acronym for something else! Fascinating. Autos are something we all love and yet dislike so much. My kids love to travel by auto, even better if it rains and we usually take them a lot when we travel.

    My experiences have always been nice with auto wallahas. I am also quite talkative and usually ask quite a few questions. On one of my recent auto rides, there was this very young lad from a village and was excited about his new life in a big city and spoke quite a bit. Staying away from home land, my language has not kept up with the colloquial usage and I did not realize till this auto guy after bringing me home with all sincerity told me "Akka, from your language and the way you respond and the kind of questions you ask, you seem very innocent. You must have come from a small town to this big city. Let me tell you, I have been here for 6 months and it is not very nice. So I request you to be careful and not be this nice!" I was truly touched with his good intention and my family couldn't stop laughing that the guy had assumed I am from a small town!

    They are an interesting lot and the stories and opinions are fascinating to listen to. I am one of those people who cannot hear a word if someone calls on phone - I don't even hear the phone ring in the noise and not being a big fan of surfing web, I do focus on people, traffic and surroundings. I enjoy the auto rides even though I do think there are one too many of them on the roads.
     
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  4. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    You are correct Thyagarajan Sir. We find many samaritans among Auto Drivers.Sometimes they go out of the way to help.During Fire accident in Kumbakonam Elementary school in 2004, 94 children died.A mother( widow) who lost two out of her four children died of shock leaving two young kids of 4 and 2. An auto man who had also lost one of his children in the tragedy, is voluntarily bringing up the two children as his own with full cooperation from his wife.As the mother died soon after, no one could claim compensation also. We happened to travel by the auto from Kumbakonam to Thiruvisainallur and the driver was narrating his experiences during the Fire tragedy and he was able to save four children by transporting them to the hospital in his auto .He shed tears on the destiny of other innocent children who lost their lives.
    On the way he stopped his vehicle in his house and showed the two children to us. The girl had grown tall and was doing 10 th standard and the boy was in 8th.Giving money and donating is different. But to bring up the children as his own is totally remarkable.My sambandhi mama , a native of Thiruvisainallur,who has a general aversion to all autowallas in Chennai, has special consideration to this autodriver and extends generous help when needed.
    Jayasala 42
     
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  5. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Srama,
    Interesting narration of your learning experience from auto drivers.After 1985, many graduates didn't get any worthy job.They learnt driving, got an auto through loan schemes.Auto is the mode of their livelihood. There are principled automen who never charge extra.But among stiff competition, they also fall in line with other smart drivers and we are doomed.After mega cheating incidents fron OLAS and UBERS, once again people are turning to wayside autos. Perhaps they think that it is better to be cheated by desis.
    Jayasala 42
     
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  6. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan Finest Post Winner

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    Truly tear jerking .
    Thanks and regards.
    God's children survive better out of love than mere donation.
     
  7. HariLakhera

    HariLakhera Gold IL'ite

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    All these years I was under the impression that auto is the short form of automobile and I am sure I am not alone. Autos in Delhi are no different. They can read the client's face.
    On a lighter side, yellow and back cab drivers of Calcutta in those days were notorious for refusing to go to places not suitable to him. Some enterprising students found the answer in doing tit for tat.
    Student - O! taxi -Howrah jabe? (means -will he go to Howrah station? )
    Driver- Jabo (will go) (Every driver would love to go to Howrah Railway station for that was the place he would get a good fare.)
    Student- to ja (means -then go).
    With the advent of Uber and other taxi services, they are behaving well now.
     
  8. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Smt. Jayasala:

    Through you, I have understood what is the real meaning of "AUTO" now. Thanks to the knowledgeable auto driver you had engaged for your trip. Child experience you had narrated was scary and I am glad all ended well.

    Rarely I used auto when I visit India but sometimes, after I send my rented car for the day, something comes up. We have an auto stand in front of my in-laws apartment. Most of them are known to my parents in law as they used all of them for 28 years to go to Sundaram to either perform pooja or for service project. Sometimes, as part of Narayana seva, they are all fed by MIL. They always ask only one question, "Why did you take her to the US? We are all here to look after her". I always respond, "She loves each one of you like her children but at her age, it is hard for her to live alone. Therefore, we bring her only once a year to her home". The round trip to Sundaram is Rs 60 always and I am not sure whether it is only for our family or for everyone.
     
  9. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    Autowallas seem to be of same stuff everywhere.
    Jayasala 42
     
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  10. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    Dear viswa,
    We normally go by autos to many places. Normally they won't tell the charges." How much will you give?"they will make an assessment of our experience and capability., and our bargaining skills.Some say" we charge less only because you are old'While going we have to go by round about way. Or we won't have savaaris from the place you get down etc."We have varieties of experiences. But we can't avoid using autos.
    jayasala 42
     

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