Friday, October 10, 2008

Drenched in Bangalore

It is exactly six weeks today to this incident and now I can look back at it in a more rational way. So this is how it happened:

We are outside the Forum mall in Bangalore and trying to hire an auto to take us back to our hotel. I enquire in broken english and hindi if the auto driver can take us to *** hotel in ShantiNagar.

'ShantiNagar? OK, OK.'
'*** Hotel, ShantiNagar.'
'OK, OK. 60Rupees, OK?'

And so we get into the auto and after about 20 minutes of maneuvering, the auto stops at a cross roads and the driver inquires the shopkeepers around there where the *** hotel is located. He finds out that it is about a kilometer and half away from where we are standing. So he informs me:

'Forty rupees more, Sir, very far.'
'Why? I told you I wanted to go to the *** hotel right from the beginning.'
'This ShantiNagar. Sixty rupees here only.'

So we started arguing and I got out of the auto just as a heavy downpour started. Both of us kept on arguing heatedly through the downpour and got fully drenched. In the end, the auto driver requested me to get back into the auto as it was raining heavily. But would I budge? Of course not, I wanted to make a point. So I located a traffic policeman on duty and brought him in to solve the problem. After listening to both sides, he dispensed justice and told the auto driver to drop me back exactly from where he picked me up and told me not to pay him anything. He was getting drenched as well and immediately ran away to find shelter. Leaving me fuming.

Did I want to go back to the Forum Mall? After pondering on this for a few minutes, I got back into the auto and told him to locate the hotel and drop me there, which he did. I paid him the full 100 rupees that he had been asking for. He was actually surprised as he was not expecting this and thanked me profusely before driving away.

This incident raises two questions. Why can't Bangalore autos ply according to the meter? Every auto seems to have one. Perhaps people have grown accustomed to bargaining for the fare in advance, instead of relying on the meter. More importantly, why did I make such a fuss if I, in the end, paid him what he had been asking for?

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