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.