The Indian Auto shows !

The ‘Auto’ industry, to the layman, refers to the three wheeler : the Auto rickshaw! That mode of transport that gets you from place A to place B, with minimum comfort-maximum value, basic courtesy ( depending on the city you take the auto in) -maximum noise !
The Bangalore Auto rickshaws gave me a tough time in haggling. I had to polish, and re polish basic kannada there ! In Mumbai, things are a lot more professional ! In Tamil Nadu, ‘metered fare’ is as alien as aliens can get !! ( And with no meters, ‘at the mercy of’ takes a far greater meaning) !

Whatever the case, these three wheelers form an indelible part of the Indian city landscape. Through narrow roads, crowded streets, early mornings, late evenings, for every occasion, the Indian ‘auto’ rides them all !

On the way to Goa, we spotted some ‘hard top’ auto rickshaws, with doors et al. Wonder why ! That seems to be a variant of the konkan region. Colourful, ‘decorated’, interior worked, these hard topped vehicles looked majestic seen in the backdrop of the pristine mountains and roads !

Notice the spade work on the door ! The curtains inside. And those elaborate frills that adorn the drivers seat. Not to miss the ornate name board on the ‘forehead’ ! Perhaps the hard top and doors comes in handy during the monsoons, when the rains would hit mother Earth with persistent ferocity !

The Mumbai autorickshaw is a study in contrast. Functional. Fast. And sometimes, just way too omnipresent. Especially if you are stuck in a jam ! And when it rains, the resourceful auto ‘driver’ just pulls the string to roll down a tarpaulin / leather / rexine / plastic sheet, to shield the passengers from rain. If rain water makes it through this, which happens invariably, too bad for you!!

All said and done, the auto rickshaw define a city to many a traveller. For it is them and their drivers that you come in contact with as soon as you set foot in a city !! Just ask a non-tamilian’s about his first trip to Chennai, and i can bet you that there would be an invariable mention of the auto rickshaw at central station !

That said, did you know that auto rickshaw runs in the UK as well ? (with seat belts, shock absorbers et al) ! Well, at least that’s what the papers said back then. And i blogged about it two years back ! You can read it here.

If there was a permanent fixture on Indian roads, (other than potholes), it would be the good old auto rickshaw ! And for all of three wheels, they can get spinning like nobodys business !

Alright, it is a three wheel drive ! But one that could give all four wheel drives a run for their money, within the city ! This Indian Auto truly shows, who is the king of the Indian road !

7 thoughts on “The Indian Auto shows !

  1. Aleta says:

    Aww, those three wheelers are adorable! I wonder how they handle. I’ve seen “smart cars” in Louisiana. They are cut too. But to be honest, with so many large cars out there, the “smart car” is a dangerous risk in a car accident (I wouldn’t have wanted Greg in the smart car in his accident!)

    Thanks for sharing the pictures. I’ve never seen a three-wheeler before! Too cute!

  2. HOBO says:

    Useful but sometimes irritating too on roads.

  3. Kavi, I’ve seen the Delhi and Chennai ones, but my alltime favourite has to be the Mumbai rickshaw, closely followed by Pune. It is still safe in these two cities for women to use these vehicles at odd hours. (looking for some wood to touch , in these uncertain times). I have personal experience of both……

  4. Ms Cris says:

    Hehe I am a daily passenger of autorickshaws. They are so very usual in Trivandrum, where I live, you’d almost think those are living beings that moved and looked funny! But boy the first thing that comes to mind now are the increased rates these days. With petrol rates goin up, auto waalas are charging like anything! I am planning to switch to good old traditional mode of transport – 2 legs and a really strong will power!

  5. i have very high respect for autos right now sir. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. Kavi says:

    Aleta : Am glad i could lead you there. Whenever you do come here…that will come in handy i guess !

    Hobo : No doubts ! and the value they bring is tremendous too

    ugich : Without doubt. One of the most professional autorickshaw drivers are here in Mumbai ! I love the city for that !

    Ms Cris: Petrol crisis isnt going to spare anyone in a hurry ! So, in a sense all of us are affected

    GP : I know @ i know !!! Will talk soon

  7. Kavi,

    I agree with you. Yes they show truly who is the king of the Indian road. Do you know what whenever I got into an Auto in Chennai, my first warning to the driver is to go slow. If he had driven according to my taste, I used to compliment him. The more goes without telling directly. Sometimes as he starts the auto, I used to tell my co-passenger ” Look at this man how nicely he starts the auto not like the usual drivers. I like such kind of drivers who could drive safely considering the passenger”. Belive me! This has worked so well. Sometimes you need to tell them on their face “I preferred you because you are middle aged and was sure that you will take us safely and you proved it…”

    If they were young and had taken me cautiously, I used to say “Though you are young, your driving is matured. Well done..”

    More than the money, it is small encouragement which keeps them going.

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