Thursday, November 20, 2008

Catching up and an autowallah’s theory

I suddenly realized that I hadn’t written in more than a year. Blame my completely disorganized life for it. But here I am, trying to catch up.
Well, this is a post I have been thinking of writing up for quite some time. A couple of months back I was frantically looking for an auto to office during a hot, sweltering morning. As usual, no one wanted to go or they asked for some exorbitant fare…which, those who know me know, I would not give at all. I found it highly surprising that autos would refuse to go to such a prime location as CP. After all, isn’t that one of the places where these guys would get more customers. Apparently, I was wrong.
So finally, after asking at least 13-14 autos, this one guy asks me if I wanted to go to the IP Metro station instead. Jumping at the opportunity to get at least somewhat close to work, and the fact that I can take the (god-blessed) metro to CP, I said fine…and what do you know… he even agreed to go by meter.
A couple of minutes later, when we were standing at a traffic signal, I ventured to ask the auto guy the reason for him and his brethren’s reluctance to go to such a central location for a fair price (after all, would our employers give us more money just because we demand it. Rather, in today’s age of rising inflation and a tumbling market, it’s quite the contrary). And so started his narrative explaining the logic of not going to CP. (For my convenience I will write his narrative in first person… Also, I think it’ll be more convincing.)
See, in the morning, everyone wants to go to CP, and since CP itself is not a residential place, there is no one who will go FROM CP TO ANYWHERE. So, if I take a customer to CP, I will have to bring an empty auto back to at least Pragati Maidan or to the IP metro station. That will take another 20 minutes plus the gas that I burn in the commute.
If I go by meter, I will get Rs50-55 at the most. Most autowallahs ask for Rs60-80. Which is in a way fair because of the amount of traffic that’s there on the road and the amount of gas that’s burnt. (Yeah right…as if we don’t waste as much time in the traffic jams as well…but, I do agree with the fuel bit…my car’s mileage goes for a toss considering the amount of time I spend driving on first gear and going forward 10cm at a time.) But I’m looking at the bigger picture. By going to the metro station… I get Rs40 at least. I avoid the traffic jam at ITO—both to and fro, so I save time and fuel. I immediately get passengers, which I won’t get at CP because most people will want to go there, but at office time…who will want to get out of CP. And if I get male passengers, I can get two or three of them at the same time and that triples my earnings. (SMART!!!)
So, while the rest of the autowallahs are earning Rs300-500 a day, I’m earning Rs1,200 (that’s Rs36,000 a month. Not bad, I say). My kid can go to a good school. I can give my wife at least Rs800 at the end of the day. I don’t have to grudge my family the simple pleasures in life, like if my son wants a McDonald’s burger…no probs; my wife wants a new sari for some friend’s wedding…no problemo. This makes my family happy… I’m happy… and I’m not really asking for more money am I… I’m taking you to a point from where you can get another mode of transportation easily…so, you’re relatively happy (to be fair…he’s not related to me, so it’s technically okay not to be concerned with my happiness). Everyone wins.
Match Point: Auto guy! (Doesn’t do much for my frustration about not getting an auto in the morning, though. But I have learnt the trick… just take the auto to the metro station.)

PS-- This is a brilliant documentary made by Arvind Iyer, a film student, on autos and auto fares in Chennai. A must watch! Click here-- For Hire!

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha ! Well written , makes me think - now where have i heard of all of this before ! :)