Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Market Unleashed

I’ve been here a few months and I’ve gotta tell you folks. I am schizophrenic on the issue of auto drivers and their dad-burned idiosyncracies. I have rants – I say, rants in me about these fellows!

As a foreigner, getting a fair deal on an auto rickshaw ride is so rare that I remember the names of drivers who have actually acted right. 

Mohammed, Vijay, Kannan, Victor, Said, Iqbal, Murali, Masood, Rajen, Srinivasaiah et. al.: life to you. 

Now I can’t remain annoyed for very long when an auto-wallah acts like he thinks I was born yesterday. I have to laugh because I actually like the entrepreneurial spirit of these guys. The auto rickshaw ride is the market unfettered. If it’s raining and demand rises, these guys will up their charges, because your desire not to get soaked has a price. Foreigners are assumed to be tourists or short-termers with little in the way of local knowledge, and far more disposable income than average Bangaloreans – meaning the chances of getting called out for overcharging are smaller. 

The kicker is that even when they do get called out they’re in a city of about 10 milly – and counting! Someone is going to ask them for a ride. Hell, these guys can practically take customers when they feel like it; the demand is so stable, and so high. That’s the reality, and I can live with it. 

That being said, these fellows do at times cross the line. My first malediction goes out to the young rapscallion whose undisguised attempt to overcharge me was so egregious that I burst out laughing. 

I required his services for a journey of 3km at most, which would cost around 30 rupees. Yet without stuttering the dude fixed his mouth to demand 100 rupees of me. The time was only 8pm (they can't charge extra until 21:30). Even if it were after midnight and he'd been within his rights to charge me double what was on the meter, it wouldn't have come close to 100. 

Clearly, he must have fallen and bumped his head to think he could get away with charging such an outrageous sum. And then the fellow has the chutzpah to declare a final offer of 50 rupees as if he's doing me a favour. Billy O!

My second malediction goes out to the son of a bachelor who claimed he had to charge me extra because he had to drop off one of my fellow passengers, and it was out of his way, "fuel costs, old sport! Don’t you know?" 

Very well. But you and I both know good and gatdam well that we were already overpaying you by a significant amount to get us back home. Had you gone by the meter you wouldn’t have made anything close to what we paid you. Fuel costs, Indeed!


I think I'm going to like this town.

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