Monday, March 16, 2009

A commuter's tale

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.

3 comments:

  1. Very true. I have been to most cities and used Autos where possible. Auto-wallahs in Mumbai, wherever they operate are very considerate. Pune is close but not as good as Mumbai. I agree with you on Bangalore..but I wonder why is there such disparity in behaviors..

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  2. Your post reminded me of the "ricks" from Jadavpur to Gariahat where if you are not dying in between two people, you could easily grab the lunch bag from an oncoming "rick" with the sudden turns from the artists.It is very scary !!!

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  3. Ricks are usually up to all sorts of tricks in Kolkata. They politely advise others to obey traffic rules (check the back of any rick in Kolkata, one is bound to see "traffic aine maaniye cholun"). It's just their way to say to others , watch out friends the rules are for you and not for us, so better obey them. On the flip side, we will go on complaining about them but we never fail to take one to work. It's simple, we commute and they pollute. Who says our govt. sits idle, they have to pull out the tough balancing act between convincing Calcutta High court that they are in the perpetual process of law implementation and collecting daily contributions from the poor rick drivers through the party affiliated unions. Meanwhile we curse the govt., the traffic situation and we get ready for our day's work by letting a out big sigh and probably some benzene too.

    Ankan


    Ankan

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