Life in an auto is a super-bumpy ride: A college-goer’s daily struggle
Autorickshaw — the three-wheeled transport vehicle that can seem like a life-saver when you are in a rush (have you seen their Formula One skills?) — is often at the heart of every traffic snarl in the city and invariably the reason you either start college in a foul mood or you find yourself smiling even when you are in a deadly boring class. Here are some aspects of the daily auto commute...
The khuchro row
They never have small change, especially in the morning — their “bouni” time. It doesn’t matter if the change they need to return is a meagre two rupees or six. “Dada khuchro kothay pabo?”and “Khuchro hobey na” are the most heard exchanges in an auto on any route in Calcutta.
The seat saga
You cannot board an auto without passengers saying either that they get off last or they get off first to grab the prized side-seats in the auto. People are even willing to hop off and on in heavy rain just to sit on the side. There are women who won’t sit in the front seat, forcing you to offer your by now comfortable spot in the back. Then there is that “chivalrous” guy who takes the front seat without being asked to and gives you the silent “you’re welcome” nod. Can I mention how much we hate that?
God forbid if you take the auto — to or from — at the same time each day and have eligible co-passengers. Get ready to be proposed to, because it’s Love in The Time of Auto! There are, of course, the more frequent and random “fraandship” requests that are usually harmless, despite being annoying. There are aunties who judge you for your clothes and couples who manage to get some action in the dark, while you have to stare outside and pretend to be in love with... well... the traffic.
The phone chit-chat
There is the guy who tries to be all suave, talking on his expensive-looking phone when it starts ringing in between and you can’t help but laugh. There is the lady who updates her friend on the last episode of a serial the other has missed and the girl who tells her dad she is at Gariahat when the auto is stuck near Kankurgachhi.
The swag on
Once it’s dark, the auto drivers turn on the glam — neon lights inside, Akon and Snoopdog on stereo. It is a different world .
This has happened to every female commuter at least once, if not more. You sit in the back and it is probably the man pretending to look for his phone. If you sit in the front it could be the driver pretending to swerve (it happens less than what used to happen when the auto had a manual starter). Then of course there are the pervs who try hard to see down the front of your tops and dresses.
The auto-tuto family
Not everyone in the autos are bad. There are drivers and passengers who become friends and kakus when you are a regular. These are the people who don’t mind you owing two rupees khuchro or are the first to admonish a passenger if they act fresh with you.
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