Well, before any die-hard Calcuttans & Bangaloreans accuse me, this is certainly not a Calcutta/Bangalore-bashing trip that I have emerged on, just penning down a few observations that I have made on the course of my journey. I have spent quite a bit of my time in the above mentioned cities & presently working in Bombay. More than two-thirds of my commute in all the cities were off-course though the rick, or as the complete version goes, Auto-rickshaws, so you can call me a SME on the issue. Let me start with Bangalore, a very nice city, in fact my favorite city in spite of its chock-a-bloc traffic & the rick guys that I am going to talk about. Describing them in one word would be “arrogant” …yeah, that’d be the word. Imagine a day…clear blue sky, sunny & warm… a few of ricks parked on the road-side & rickies chatting away, may be one of them reading a newspaper, you request them for a commute… they DECLINE, simply an arrogant no! In some cases even if they say yes, they’d ask for an outrageous amount that you’d not know how to respond! Arnab, my friend always suspected that they have some other source of earning bread & butter! Their Calcutta counterpart is another extreme… well, most of the time they don’t have a choice of saying no, since all the ricks ply on a set route & the fare is decided for the same (though there arises occasions when they make an extra buck or two given the commuter’s compulsion!!) But a ride on a rick in Calcutta could be unimaginably painful….They take five, Six or sometimes even seven people as opposed to the standard three in most of the cities, they cuss at each other, compete on racing with other ricks, continuously honk, do not follow any lane discipline (as a result of which the commuters are tossing & turning inside). I wonder if any documentation is done, but the rick accidents are very much commonplace in Calcutta! In all of these I have only the authorities & the Government to blame!!! The Government doesn’t give a fig about its people’s well being….it’s as simple as that!!! On the contrary the Bombay rickies are the sweetest lot, they never refuse the passenger, despite however short the commute is & how late it is at night, they always have change, they make sure that you reach the right destination, they themselves are very well-versed with the routes, they seldom honk & behave on the road…what more do you need from these guys who cater to such a huge number of commuters everyday! Saying all these, I must mention that there are exceptions all through, but my perception holds true for the majority of these rickies in the respective cities.
P.S. – Using the old name of these cities is intentional.