Monday, June 22, 2009

The "All Dressed Up But Nowhere To Go" Look


I just couldn't get this picture from today's edition of Deccan Herald out of my head. The article was about a new "Breathe Fresh" campaign led by homemakers in Bangalore. Read more about it here

What captured me about the accompanying photo was not just the fact that they cropped the lady they were talking about. That part was funny! Notice the posse of auto-rickshaw drivers she is addressing? The way they stand, their doped eyes, the aggressive hand-postures, the leery expression... why, the Great Wall of Incomprehension that seems to separates them from her! No?

To experience one such look, when one is desperately seeking a ride home, is excrutiating. This frame full of those faces felt no less than gang-rape.

Anyone that has faced the misfortune of being at the mercy of auto-rickshaws in Bangalore will recognize that "i'm only here for a joyride" look. Whether at a lazy 3PM or anxious post-movie midnight, no logic drives the Bangalore auto-guy's refusal to ply. Whether one is pregnant, disabled, elderly or soaked, neither money nor pleading can move that inert soul slumped over a rickety handle-bar. In many cases, they grimace as if you just revealed your address as "39, Hell Street", before put-putting away... 300 metres to the next sideways nod. Sometimes it looks like they roam the streets only to score the highest Nos.

When one does agree to go, the meter is rigged (often, by just a rupee per KM). That translates into about Rs.50 extra for a cross-city return-trip. If caught, the robin-hood excuse is: "What saar, you are IT. So much you are earning. What is one rupee extra faar you?"

After my five year battle in the city, the auto unions have won. I pay them whatever they want, I go wherever they wish and simply walk the rest of the way. For I have seen, even the police is shit scared of their unions. They fail to enforce something as basic as the mandatory PUC check, while cutting down trees in Lalbag to ostensibly reduce pollution! Trucks, buses and autos spewing thick black smoke can pass under the running nose of traffic constables with not a whistle of alarm or protest.

To see a bevy of sweet brave hearts do something about the menace, instead of arm-chair blogging, is indeed news of the day. Extremely heartening! This huge population of commercial vehicle drivers and owners will steer us into or away from the gas chambers that they continue to create. If we can reach out to them, whether through education or torture, the time to do it is now before Bangalore turns into Bombay.

For all our sakes, I wish the "Breathe Fresh" ladies good luck.

8 comments:

udtahaathi said...

The audience sport the look as if it was a lecture on safe sex.
Probably the 'techie' doesn't want to publish his wife's image, to avoid adverse reactions from other autowallas.

roflindian said...

They look as if they regularly do dope, hash, grass or coke. The leer in the looks says it all. Sad state of affairs. I was in Hyderabad recently. Things did not look as bad there. I was able to hire an auto at 11.30 in the night to take me to my hotel a few kms away. And the guy didn't charge a fortune.

roflindian said...

They look as if they regularly do dope, hash, grass or coke. The leer in the looks says it all. Sad state of affairs. I was in Hyderabad recently. Things did not look as bad there. I was able to hire an auto at 11.30 in the night to take me to my hotel a few kms away. And the guy didn't charge a fortune.

monikamanchanda said...

oh they are horrid the autowallahs... if i dont have the car i take the bus and if that is not available i call for a taxi (with the kind of money the auto wallahs ask, taxi dont become a lot expensive anyways) but I dont ride an auto

hope this beathe easy work though I have my doubts

BTW I have chennai auto guys are worst if that is some consolation

:D

Kamana said...

Vidooshak,

Having in both cities, Id have to say that Bangalore is a tad worse than Bombay.
I so vividly remember, after work- waiting for hours for an auto, the ease with which they'd come and stop just a few inches from your feet, the nonchalance with which they'd decline ur request to go to any place, ANY PLACE, walking through the deserted stretch of cubbon park and being addressed as "eh! lovely!" by Eunuchs awaiting their prospective clients.....

My sincere wishes for "Breathe Fresh" to succeed.

Mama - Mia said...

wow! well least someone is trying! and yes, having faced the horrid auto guys way too often in bangalore, i would rather call a cab than try to hail an auto!

and yes, the smoke the spew and noise they make! they are trying to do these public awareness ads too on radio saying how we shouldnt cheat guests!

but the attitude of these guys is just SO bad right now that its not gonna take less than a miracle to change them!

wishing the ladies lotsa luck!

cheers!

abha

ps: @ monika - chennai auto guys are far better! least they will take you while cheating you reasonably!

Mumbai Diva said...

hmmm... i see the auto guys in delhi have competition!!

at mumbai there is no problem of getting an auto to go where you want it too...but the pollution..oh! the pollution. and the breakneck speed with which they race over the famous mumbai potholed roads....enough to give you a heart attack.

starry eyed said...

yeah, I remember this pic...I felt sorry for the women who had to go face these creeps. I travel by auto once a month, only if my life depends on it. I have walked kilometres rather than strangle the eighteenth autowallah who refuses to ply minimum fare distance...because...why...it's illegal to strangle these guys!

Like your blog title by the way! Bangalore whining, lol!