Whenever I stay in Bangalore, Sheela's brother most graciously ferries me around in his car to wherever I want, which is nice of him, but has deprived me of some very important insights into human nature, a very specific sub-species of humanity known as the Bangalore Auto Driver (BAD). This time, owing to his being busy, I volunteered to get around by myself on autos. He warned me, saying that it is a thing not easily mastered by novices, but I decided to take the plunge. Hence this report.
At the outset, let me clarify that, despite all the cynical and adverse publicity given to the BADs by various writers, the BAD is actually part of the homo sapien species. The seemingly aberrant behavior, surly countenance and reluctance to perform any kind of beneficial economic activity such as taking people to their destinations is simply an acquired evolutionary feature and should be understood as such. This account is intended to guide the reader in his or her interactions with the BAD
First, unlike in Mumbai, one does not get in to the auto and bark out one's destination, just like that. I don't exactly know what happens if one does that, but no one's ever tried it and survived. Perhaps the auto driver slashes your throat. Even the question puts the shivers into most Bangaloreans. What you do is go humbly to the rickshaw driver, avoiding eye contact at all times, and request him to take you to your destination
Note that I do not use any more words than necessary. Even the question mark is implied in the intonation.
The responses to this question can be one of several.
Sometimes even this innocuous question, possibly because you haven't asked it with sufficient humility, results in a little tirade, conveying the auto driver's views on the despicable nature of Chalukya Hotel as a destination and of you as just the kind of low life who WOULD want to go to places like that.
Do not be disheartened. He does not mean it. Even if it does, he does not mean you any harm. Withdraw from his august presence with head bowed at all times and walk backwards till you are a respectable distance away. See for instance the movie Mughal-e-Azam for guidance to proper obsequiousness. You will find it in the courtiers approaching the Emperor Akbar for minor favors such as commutation of a death sentence.
Often, the auto driver also adds a sarcastic barb, pointing you out to other auto drivers as if to say "Look at this loser. Chalukya hotel! His father ever went to Chalukya hotel or what?" and ends it with a bit of raucous laughter.
Choke back those rising sobs and hold back those tears. The auto driver might not take kindly to drama gima.
However, there are a few auto drivers who are very sweet and nice about the whole thing. These are the thinkers, the Socrateses among the pack, people who have realized the futility of life, people who will feed dumb animals and give alms to the poor. If you are fortunate enough to meet one of them, he will smile in a saintly manner and with a look of infinite sadness tell you that he cannot come to Chalukya hotel. He doesn't tell you why but you can guess it must be something grave. Probably promised his dying grandmother he would never got to Chalukya Hotel.
Where, one might ask, do these guys all want to go? That, dear reader, is one of life's great mysteries. Perhaps, like great sages, the great BADs are here for a purpose us ignorant people cannot fathom. Perhaps it's just our sheer inferiority that puts us out of contention for receiving favors from them. Perhaps you'll have to climb a few Himalayan mountains scouring for wise men who can tell you the answer. But one thing is abundantly clear. What they are definitely NOT here for is to go to Chalukya Hotel