If you look inside one of those omnipresent auto rickshaws in Pune and spot a particularly hassled passenger, it might as well be me. Wave out to me, Good Samaritan, and I may last out that bit longer. Why the drama, you say? Read on.
I cannot expect to always get an answer when asked to be dropped to a certain destination. The likelihood of an answer depends on the quality of my destination, the driver’s mood and I assume a few others unstated factors. I must learn to equate silence with either a “no” or an obnoxious fare.
They never seem to find passengers anywhere. My chosen destination is always either too close or too far, too crowded or too sparse, and always bereft of people needing an auto ride.
If I am lucky enough to find someone who will drop me, I may have to pay a good amount over and above the meter reading. It is apparently the half return fare and the drivers have the right to claim it. Why? See reasons above.
I have to be prepared to be introduced to new roads, lanes and turns especially if not familiar with the route. I have tried saying that the GPS tracker suggests an alternate route but am grumpily told that stuff is crap.
As a customer, I must carry exact change. I cannot expect the auto wallahs to have change when it is morning (too early in the day), afternoon (lunch time) or evening (rush hour). The little bundle of notes under the seat is meant to be taken out only in extreme circumstances, usually after a nasty argument.
I am facing severe withdrawal symptoms. I really miss the crowded, air-conditioned compartment of the Delhi Metro which barely let me stand yet always safely dropped me to and from work – all at very little cost. And now, all this auto-mated learning, all at once, is killing me. Help me, Lord.