I finally did it! I drove an Autorickshaw. It was the perfect ride on an imperfect vehicle.
The vehicle’s condition was exactly as I hoped – No lights, gear shift stuck, handle pulling to the right, breaks unreliable and constantly rattling.
How did this happen?
The driver was drunk!
What time did this happen?
1AM in the night.
Weren’t you scared?
Yeah, when the guy was driving.
Are you crazy?
Was it Fun?
It was late in the night and I had to find something to get back to home. An auto is the best bet at that time, and then came bouncing, the rickety rackety Auto.
Fare negotiations took 4 seconds –
He said 150/-,
I said 130/-,
He said ‘NO’,
I said ‘OK‘
With the first few words from him, I realized that he was drunk.
I asked – You look drunk. Can you drive?
He said – Sure
I said – OK!
Did you ever hear a drunk saying that he cannot drive safely? No! At least he can say things that don’t make much sense, he was drunk.
I, on the other hand, of perfectly sound mind, decided to trust the words of a drunk auto driver.
After convincing myself that this is not my last day in this world and with assurances from him, I got in.
An Auto driver’s mind
I asked him why he was driving after drinking. Pat came the reply “Only 1 beer”. Another reason was body pains, he was really tired driving an auto the whole day in heavy traffic and he drank to forget his body aches. A likely story.
After a few minutes, I came up with an idea for driving this unstable contraption myself. This was my long-standing wish. I never tried an Autorickshaw. But it also made sense that I be the cause of my death and not a drunk auto driver.
My request was promptly accepted and I found myself on a hard straw cushion staring down a dark road.
Instructions to handle this vehicle were transferred in 5-6 sentences –
Here’s the clutch. The throttle is in the right hand. Gear shift in the left hand. Oh by the way, that’s the break near your right foot.
and then we were off…
WoW this was one nice piece of Junk. The handle was pulling to the right, I had to put my weight to keep it straight. It was slow and the brakes were weird. But I was driving it.
It was fun, you could put one of these in an amusement park and tourists will have a ball taking it for a spin.
Soon enough, in a few minutes, my right hand started aching. It was hard trying to make the Auto go straight, it was leaning heavily to the right. The gear shift was stuck and I had to use force to change them.
All this, while driving in darkness. The light on this thing was useless.
My drunk friend was surprisingly alert. He was constantly giving me instructions, pointing out heavy trucks in my way, I was too absorbed in driving the Auto to notice any dangers.
I guess he lost his buzz along with any confidence in my driving abilities.
In 30 minutes I reached home. My right hand was aching. I had new respect for this kid, driving this piece of junk the whole day through the smoke-filled streets of Hyderabad. This was a very hard job.
The dude was happy that I could empathize with his situation. I was the only customer to drive his Auto in the last two years. I added an extra tip and made him promise to drive home safely.
That was my one night in an Autorickshaw.