In Delhi, if you haven’t left hours before the scheduled time to reach a place, you’re already late. So you run to the nearest cluster of autos. There’s almost always one nearby. If there isn’t, well, there are a ton of apps you can use to call one.
Go to the first auto- he says he doesn’t have enough fuel.
The next auto charges too much.
And hence, the first few autos aren’t a success. You keep going either till someone agrees to go by the meter or until you’re fed up and just sit in any one.
Auto drivers have a special talent: No space is too small for them. Ever. They dodge cars, busses and trucks while driving on the smallest of paths. You just grip the edge of the seat till your knuckles turn white. But all autos do this- you’re used to it and you even trust them.
P.S. Did you know autos do, in fact have a reverse gear?! I only found out recently!
Auto drivers may have habits that the average person may find intriguing.
They don’t believe in wasting time and hence read newspapers at traffic lights.
Prefer to stick their hand out dangerously to indicate where they’re going. Who needs those red and yellow light-things anyway?
They spit. On the road. While driving at full speed (which leaves you praying that the spit doesn’t travel back to you…ugh)
Staring at the passengers in passing autos (um, no thank you — drive, please).
Chatting- they keep giving you their opinion even if you’re totally disinterested and unresponsive.
At the end of the hair raising experience, (literally! The wind does not do well to one’s hair), you get off the auto, pay the man and are immediately surrounded by another swarm of auto walla’s.
Like yeah, I totally took an auto ride all the way here just so that I can go back immediately in one.
Photograph by Mehran Singh Katoch