Monday, February 06, 2006

Auto Pilot

Commuting in a metro city is a unique experience by itself. Each metro has a mode of public transport, that is synonymous with the image of the city. The local trains of Mumbai, the metro-rail of Kolkata, and the govt. buses of Delhi, occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of residents of the respective cities. So what is a similar equivalent for the city of Hyderabad? You got it, it is a shared auto-rickshaw.

Hyderabad, unlike most other metros, does not have one single mode of public transport that covers the length and breadth of the city. Though the city does have govt. buses and local trains, but they are not the most preferred modes of transport for a majority of commuters. This is where shared auto-rickshaws come in. They shuttle from one major city junction to another, and commuters have to hop from one shared auto to another to travel from source to destination. For example, I would have to change 5 shared auto-rickshaws on my way back from office to home! (Thank God we have a company bus.)

Traveling in a shared auto is like doing a roller-coaster ride in a local train. What with not less than 7 people packed into a cramped vehicle, and the driver maneuvering the 3 wheeler as if performing a Bollywood stunt sequence. And if that does not drive you nuts, the cacophony of a third grade loud speaker emitting the most unheard of “Gulti” song, in the shrillest of tones, right into your ears, surely will. And what’s more, the auto-drivers, who are usually teen-agers who consider themselves professional stuntman, keep punctuating the music with their own brand of Hyderabadi expletives.

To say that traffic of the roads of this city of Nawabs is atrocious, would be an understatement. The shared autos, with their habit of congregating and clogging major junctions, have a major role to play in this mayhem. It is not an unusual site to see commuters themselves get down from their vehicles and play the role of traffic police, in order to clear the perpetual jams on the main roads of the city. Most vehicles on the roads, with their fair share of dents, provide visual proof of the chaos. Every other day, one reads news about an unfortunate road mishap. But no one seems to be bothered by it anymore. I guess, everyone has become comfortably numb.

The shared auto-rickshaws are responsible for their own share of road accidents. Just the other day, while traveling in one of those infamously over-packed shared autos, I noticed some blood splashed on the road, and asked the driver about it. The driver replied nonchalantly, as if telling me the score of a cricket match, that a passenger had fallen off from a cramped auto-richshaw and died there some hours back. To this, another co-passenger, who was sitting next to the driver, and managing to hang on somehow, asked anxiously, “Where was the poor fellow sitting?”. The driver replied, “Exactly where you are sitting right now!”

2 comments:

the_new_cloud said...

Ppl are really upsets about the traffic at your place.. All blogs are flooded with such posts..
I wonder if the govt reads blogs...
:-P

Nikhil Kulkarni said...

@the-new-cloud
I am sure the govt doesn't read blogs, otherwise this nation would have become a much better one already.

Jo ooncha sunte hain, unhe dhamakon ki jaroorat hoti hain - Bhagat Singh

Lets create a dhamaka from these Blogs!!