- The default roadside guides
If you are new to India, aside Google Maps and online tools, you will have to rely on Auto Drivers on roadsides. They know every nook and corner of Indian cities, districts and villages, even inroads that maps hadn’t explored so far.
Indian Auto drivers study and observe traffic patterns based on seasons, politicians’ arrival as read in newspapers or heard from radio. They do get real-time traffic news from their network friends across the city.
- The friendly Khaki uniform
Khaki or brown uniform for Auto drivers is similar to that of Policemen in duty. But unlike most policemen in duty, Khaki uniform worn Auto drives will be super friendly. You could ask them anything like a route or known personality or nearby tourist destinations in that region. They will be super friendly in guiding you with suggestions. Even better if you choose to take their ride to reach that places.
- Inflated Fares – No discrimination
Don’t get me wrong! I am not referring to every Auto rickshaw driver out there. There are auto men who just go by government fixated fares. But they aren’t the majority.
If you are a local or a foreigner, Auto drivers don’t discriminate. A little inflated rate for locals and super inflated rates for foreigners.
- Prime agents of roadside chaos
If you have taken a ride inside the cities of India, you would have come across chaotic arguments between auto drivers and bikers or cars. Be it simply due to fare related quarrels or chaos related to minor accidents or simply stares, Auto Drivers are often the prime root causes. They are sometimes aggressive, ill mannered, rude spoken on the roads to just get pass the traffic, strike a better fare, escape from the minor accidents they caused.
- The sudden twists
The design of the vehicle Auto Rickshaws itself is well suited to confuse riders on the road. Having a single wheel on the front and two wheels on the back side helps autos take swift turns. Without much caution, riders sometimes dash on the autos or will be required to apply sudden brakes. This is not healthy for children, elders and even adults. The auto drivers are well protected within the vehicle and mostly get away without any damages or bruises.
- The meter and Extra Ten Rupees
Indian Government on many states have tried to regulate the auto fares with standardized meters that are issued / authenticated by government agencies. But these only in policy measures don’t enforce standard fares.Auto drivers often tamper the standardized meters with technical help from roadside mechanics. Either they don’t follow the standardized fares as shown on the meters by asking Rs. 10 or 20 additionally than the meter rates or they don’t follow it at all.
- The one useless spare part
If you wonder what is that spare part with Indian Auto Rickshaw that is totally useless, you might say it is honk, headlight or even mirrors. I would say it is that Traffic Indicators. Almost 90% auto drivers don’t use the turn Indicators. Some just use their left or right hands for indicating following vehicles to take turns and some even don’t. The auto vehicle manufacturers may very well survey drivers and launch vehicles without that spare part at all. It is an economic waste.
- Reliable last minute chauffeurs
When there are multiple private and public transportation modes available in India to reach short distance destinations, auto-drivers still rule the game with their smart traffic insights, driving skills and aggressive road manners. This might be good or bad, but still some prefer auto-rickshaws when it comes to catching their outstation buses or trains.
- Unity is their strength
Unity in Diversity does not only apply for Indian Democracy, but also for the Auto Drivers. If you get into a quarrel or trouble with an auto driver, you would be surprised to see other auto drivers join the duel and strengthen their argument. May be this is spread as an agenda among them to take care of each other. But beware of the trouble with auto drivers. They don’t have a day job, they have all the time in a day to argue and fight, get additional strength from other auto drivers, know how to tackle local police etc.
- Mobile Inspirational Quotes and Free rides
Autos are one of the prime mobile advertisement spots for publishers. On their back cover, auto drivers also portray lot of inspirational quotes. Whether the auto-drivers follow that quotes in real life or not, the quotes are informative and inspirational. But beware, don’t get distracted by reading the Ads or Quotes too closely and collide with the auto rickshaw. You are then due for a trouble, my friend!
This post is not intended to create the sentiments of good, humble, honest, service oriented auto drivers. It just covers a common man’s experience with respect to the general observations with the auto rickshaws and auto drivers.