Half of everything, and autorickshaws

Autorickshaw rides in Delhi are not without their peculiar annoyances and romances. In the dark, you cannot really wave them down. You call out “Auto!” in the general direction of everything and hope that the auto you find will take you where you want to go without asking for twenty times the price. You haggle, you bargain. Everytime you travel it’s a bit like buying tomatoes at the vegetable market.

But the rides I remember the most are the ones taken early in the winter mornings. The wind biting you and driving your teeth numb. To the point when they longer chatter. Your hands huddled inside your bag or shawl. Eyes wide open, but the cold squeezing out drops of water from them, that streak across to your ears.

Or when it rains, and you sit in the middle of the auto, collapsing yourself into a smaller version, escaping the puddle that forms on either side. The auto is a strange vehicle. With some vehicles you are completely at the mercy of the elements. Like when you ride a two wheeler, and everyday you negotiate with wind, rain and heat. When you’re in a car, you’re relatively immune. But in an auto, half of rain, half of wind and half of heat hits you.

With the auto driver staring into the rear view mirror at the amorous ones, they have half-privacy. They then try to twist their fingers into the other’s palms. It’s that sort of half-day today. Fridays anyway are. In Delhi today, everything seems half. Even this photograph.

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10 Comments

Filed under Cities, India, Photographs, Rants and Rambles

10 Responses to Half of everything, and autorickshaws

  1. I can’t believe how nostalgic you are getting me over Delhi! And autos in general! :)

  2. Brilliant post.. I wonder if non-delihiites can relate to the experience.. but I guess, even they would be able to feel half the emotion of your posts.. That would be good enough!

    Wondering if you’ve had the experiences of four autowallahs ganging up against you at an auto-stand kinda place! :)

  3. dipali

    Auto be in Delhi now that Neha’s here!
    (Could not resist- don’t scold me , pliss)

  4. Vi

    I sit on the edge of the seat in the auto when it rains – I love feeling that sharp sting.

  5. what i will always remember about delhi winters in an auto is trying to keep that annoying, but essential, side flap down – and being told by drivers in a hurry that they “wont” stay down…!

  6. In Lahore the rickshaws (or rishkas, as they are sometimes referred to) have little doors, plastic flaps that the drivers install for the winter season to keep out the wind that slices past. Thinking about it now, it feels quite cosy, sitting in there, huddled in that small filthy cocoon of knees and shopping bags, the rearview mirror sprinkled with hearts and the quick flicker of the driver’s gaze.

    In reality, I remember none of this. Only the noise and a resounding desire to get home. Funny the way memory plays tricks on you.

  7. Perspective Inc: To be fair, the haggling and the persistent refusals to take me where I wanted to go really annoyed me. I only got nostalgic for the days when I was aggressive enough to deal with the Delhi autowalahs

    Amit: As far as ganging up is concerned, that does happen! But I guess the trick is to never bargain loudly. :)

    dipali: Lol! yeh kya haal banaa rakha hai!

    Vi: True. On the days that I don’t mind being soaked to the bone. And to top that off with a hot cup of chai.

    Mangs: Haha! Yes, that rolled up plastic covered canvas. I have to admit that the ones in Bombay are far better, they even keep the rain out. The trick with the Bombay ones is that they have these strings that are tied to the poles of the auto frame.

    karrvakarela: I also remember getting into an auto, and not really wanting to go to the place I was supposed to go to, and instead, wishing I could ask the auto to turn around. :)

  8. excellent post. esp about autos. wanted to write about it for a long time.

  9. Lovely post! I have only visited India for a few weeks but some of my favorite moments were zooming around in autos, whooshing through the night or peeking around the corners of the day. Often while my fellow travelers were clutching me, afraid for their lives, while I just grinned, trying to take it all in and riding the exhilaration – and this from a girl who is afraid of roller coasters.

  10. Given that I can spew venom about Delhi autos even in my sleep, your post worked a miracle. It actually made me miss Delhi! I liked reading it. I’m going back for a 2 week vacation at the end of the month and this post sort of made me get even more impatient to go!