Posted on

Just received this fwd from Artee… anyone who has been to Chennai will totally identify with this:

Here’s a guide on how to hire an auto rickshaw in Chennai.

Never ask the auto that is waiting on the stand. The driver will be playing cards, chatting with friends or sleeping and will surely charge you a penalty for infringing on his basic right to enjoyment. Always stop an auto already plying in the direction you want to go in. This way you have a better chance of managing a reasonable rate.

Be prepared to be ripped off. It’s going to happen anyway so set your expectations right. Please understand that at best you can only manage some damage control on fare so don’t expect too much.

Always mention a landmark where you want to get down. Get down exactly at that landmark, take a short walk to your destination but don’t ask the auto driver to take you even 2 meters farther from the landmark you had mentioned. While getting down, point at the landmark and hand him the promised fare. While doing this speak out loud the name of the landmark and the denomination in a robotic voice. For example, (pointing towards the building with one hand and holding a 100 Rupee note in the other) “Kalyani Hospital… Hundred Rupees.” After the transaction don’t look him in the eye and just get down and walk off. Always keep the exact change ready or face a penalty.

If you are talking with someone en route and are assuming that the auto driver does not understand what you speak just because you are using English or Hindi, you are wrong! If you assume that even while he understands what you are saying he will respond to your statements in English or Hindi, You are wrong again!! The auto drivers here are the Zen Masters of the Art of Ripping Off. They have a cartel and create a false language barrier to get more negotiation power.

If the auto driver gets emotional about petrol prices, traffic, hot weather, rain, house rental, auto repair expenses, his 5 girls of a marriageable age, his only son suffering from cancer, police, chief minister, prime minister or Barak Obama don’t get involved in the conversation. Just pretend you did not listen to him. A good tactic is to put on headphones and listen to some music. Conversation is another trap, don’t fall into it.

Here’s how the fare structure works. Let’s say honest fare = Rs 80.

  1. Add 30% if he was engaged in recreational activities before you hired him
  2. Add 20% if you looked lost when he threw the name of some alternate landmark at you
  3. Add 50% if you can’t speak Tamil
  4. Add 20% if your complexion is lighter than him
  5. Add 50% if it’s really late in the night (after 7 PM)
  6. Add 20% if you engaged in any conversation with him while on the way
  7. Add 30% if you are dressed well and are sporting a perfume
  8. Add 15% if you don’t have exact change
  9. Add 50% if it’s raining
  10. Add 10% if he ran out of petrol and had to walk off to get some fuel

Lets say nothing works in your favor, given below is the implication.

Minimize the mistakes and control your expenses. Sometimes you are better off calling a cab. Use short and crisp statements while setting a deal. Spice up your conversation with some Tamil words. Use South Indian accent. An example is given below:

Me: Anna… KK Nagar
Auto: (Something in Tamil)

Don’t bother about what he said. After he stops speaking just mention the landmark near your destination. Keep a straight face. This is serious business.

Me: Pondicherry Guest House
Auto: (Something in Tamil)

He may try the classic “confused about the location” trick. Just throw more landmark locations to him that are near your destination. Add aaa sound to most English words you use.

Me: Udayam Theater-a… Left-a…. Pillar-a… Straight-a… Pondicherry Guest House. KK Nagar… 10 meters Pillar-a.

Unless he is a real son of a gun he will nod his head. Don’t board yet. Just signal from your hand how much money he wants don’t say anything more.

Auto: (Something in Tamil)
Me: aaaaa?

Auto: Rs 100
Me: Anna!! What? Poor Man… What Anna? Normal-a 50 Rupees. OK TAKE 60

Now it’s up to you. Keep on negotiating until you find a reasonable rip off rate.

Some tricks you can use are interrupting the conversation for faking a phone call. Respond in English and make it appear that you are not new to Chennai and use Tamil words here and there. It helps to carry a Tamil Pulp Fiction magazine full of sex, murder and conspiracy stories in your hands. This costs about Rs. 10 and is next to currency for Auto Drivers. You can even give the magazine to him and ask for a big discount.

Last but not the least, remember hiring an auto in Chennai is like a Poker Game. You win some you loose some. Mostly you loose. Be a good sport and enjoy it.

Happy traveling!

2 thoughts on “Chennai

  1. Just back frm training .. Interesting guide u mentioned about hiring the auto .. m also thinking to start my blog… btw wha made u start the blog ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.