By Kimberly Rowe, Student Reporter – I felt quite alien in Chennai. Not knowing the local language Tamil, added to my miseries. The language wasn’t my biggest issue, ’cause i had a bigger problem. I’m about to share with you my experience with the not-so-friendly auto drivers! After each experience I’m also going to tell you the so-called rules followed by Chennai auto drivers.
Experience No.1 – I needed to take a rick ride till my school as my driver was ill that day. As if the language barrier wasn’t enough, the guy actually asked me to pay him a wholesome Rs.180/- and shamelessly so! For just a 15 minute ride, this was the amount he blurted out to me. When I refused and asked him to go by the meter, I got to know that the meter didn’t work! I wondered whether meters in Chennai Autos were there to add colour (though their black) or to make a style statement (though their just a dusty, rusted metal box with no digital numbers on them)? I next requested him to come down with the price and even mentioned that its urgent to reach on time, only to find him coolly saying “Find another one!” and driving off, head held high! Proud of it, is he?
Rule No.1 – Forget the meter. No one will go by it. And “if” they do, it’s probably been tampered with to show a higher fare.Experience No.2 – I went out with my friends to Chennai Citi Centre to celebrate our last day of school. After window shopping in the mall we wanted to go to the well-known Marina Beach which is just a stone’s throw away (we were too tired to walk). There were rickshaws lined up and we went from one to the next to the last with none of them agreeing for less than Rs.80/- Though some of my friends were local and communicated effectively in Tamil, “nothing” changed the minds of these drivers. In the end we made our tired feet walk till the beach and later took a bus home.
Rule No.2 – They are happy to exploit you, whether foreigner or local. Locals however know when their getting a run for their money, but foreigners don’t. If you’re new to the place, there’s all the more reason for you to be absolutely aware! Before talking to an auto driver, try and ask any local person what the actual fare should be, because the drivers can often ask for up to 3 times more.
Experience No.3 – I was traveling long distance with my friends in one of the Chennai auto’s and seriously, they made way too much noise, the seats were torn, the driver not too friendly, rash driving, honking added to it and altogether it isn’t really a pleasant journey. But do remember that this applies only to long distance journeys.
Rule No.3 – Use Auto-rickshaws only for short distances because they are uncomfortable.
Now now now! Do not jump to conclusions. These are just warnings which “could” happen. Some auto drivers in Chennai are well behaved and customer friendly. Almost all autos will be in good shape and condition. But awareness too is important isn’t it? So don’t be discouraged! Go to Chennai, flag down a ride, and enjoy the experience either way!