Madam - the view from the back seat in an autoSo, the last time we talked about autos I was telling you about my no-haggling strategy.

Pick a price and stick to it. It’s unusual, but it works.

Well you know, apart from being ripped off. But it at least keeps that to a level I can accept.

So, you’ve hopped in and driven off to gales of laughter from the other drivers – sometimes they’re holding each other and wiping tears from their eyes… at that point you can be really very certain prices have been slightly inflated. I might add that it’s mostly a Bangalore thing to be quite so ridiculous with the price. It was never like this in Kerala. And certainly no auto driver would have the temerity to charge more than a taxi driver to go half the distance. Sadly not the case in my current locale.

But, you’re finally in the auto and zipping through traffic. Auto drivers generally take a pride in their auto – often there is complex augmentation to the interior – sometimes sofa like additions like in the picture at the bottom. It’s not exactly comfortably plush mind, as these are working vehicles, but slightly squishy and definitely decorative. There’s always something to look at in there.

In Kerala, autos are a bit fancier, and occasionally you get into a little palace on wheels – dangly things from the mirrors, several small shrines on the dash, and perhaps a complex swirl of material in the middle of the roof. It might be something pleated and folded and carefully pin-tucked that wouldn’t look out of place at the Palace ballroom in Blackpool – and seems just a tiny bit over the top inside a four foot auto.

Madam - interior autorickshaw decor in KarnatakaIn Karnataka things are a little more restrained – but you do see fancy exterior rivets in the shape of flying skulls (for the dare devil bad boy driver no doubt), or slogans jauntily written on the back of the cab. Usually these are names of family or film stars or something macho about driving fast and living hard. Which considering the traffic in India seems unlikely in the first instance and sadly true in the second.

But just once I saw a picture of a wine glass filled with red liquid and the legend, ‘Love is a poison cup’. I thought that seemed a bit jaded even for an auto driver, so as we drew level I craned to see who might have written this awful statement. A grizzled man in his fifties perhaps?

No. It was a youth, of perhaps 17. How could he possibly have known such a thing at his tender age?

Auto drivers obviously see themselves as men on the edge.

This is part three of a three part post – read the other installments here:

Part one – Too many fruits, Madam

Part two – No, no, no, Madam

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