Who hasn't set foot in an auto-rickshaw in India?
It was the ultimate symbol of luxurious drive for middle-class until the 80s when the Maruti car arrived on the scene.
Until then an auto ride was something every family member cherished. The three-wheeler auto is a unique vehicle, made to suit Indian conditions and the great Indian family.
Kamlesh, 30, has a small television set fitted in the auto apart from a three-in-one stereo and speakers. The mini TV runs on a 12 volte battery.
"I have to take extra care of my auto as things can be stolen", he says. The purpose is to entertain the passengers and also attract others. 'Earlier I drove a minibus but auto gives you immense satisfaction and a feeling of independence'.
Most auto-rickshaw owners decorate their autos and waiting for passengers, often sleep on the seats. The front seat is large and in some cities two persons sit on either side of the driver.
All autos are unique and this particular auto in photo (a coach it claims itself!) is no exception. Many auto-rickshaw drivers are quite well educated. 'After graduation I tried hard to get a job but nothing worked for me and I decided to drive an auto as I don't have to listen to any maalik's orders', says Balbir, another auto-rickshaw driver.
'Anyday I can enjoy a holiday as I am both the owner and worker', he laughs. Also traffic police rarely challan an auto. They focus more on buses, trucks and taxis.
Auto-rickshaws are safe for women compared to taxis because they are quite open and don't have doors. (I won't take anybody's crap about auto-walas being criminals).
The back side serves as advertising board for companies in many cities and also for putting up messages by local politicians.
Yes, issues about Meter remain. The ubiquituous complaint is that the auto walas charge more than the meter or that it is tampered. In Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, I have found autos don't over charge.
In Lucknow they are cheap because it is like the tempo. They take five to six persons rather than taking you alone. Here is the photo of an auto with a heart on the back. Is it Kannada? And there is the other auto that informs you about a strike.
Kannada, is it? Clearly with the number plate KA. Of course, Bollywood is a language we all understand. And nobody needs to be told about the message given by an auto-rickshaw driver who is the fan of actress Kajol.
And nothing is more fascinating than the horn. Most of the autos still have the age-old rubber horn which the driver presses and ...does it sound pon pon!
The best thing about auto-rickshaws is their Indian-ness. The auto drivers are great talkers, they are somebody are streetsmart and still look like 'family guys'. They can tell you everything about the City.
They are the first to rush an injured person to the hospital, much before a police van comes after several phone calls to the control room and they are as ordinary as most of us.
At least, the auto gives a person the confidence that he can eke out a living, honourably, and the possibility for a poor man to aspire high and get into the middle-class.
Pravin Togadia, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, who has targeted minorities and made extremely inflammatory speeches in the cou...
In an extremely disturbing incident, the managing director (MD) of the Adhunik Group of Industries, Manoj Agarwal, termed a Muslim employee...
The usual photographs of rains, which are published in Indian newspapers are that of overflowing drains, women wading through water and scoo...
After the New Year, the villagers in Multai decided to eat a goat though it was bitten by a dog. Almost 80 persons became sick and many even...
The brutality with which women were stripped on the streets of Guwahati is horrific. More surprising is the silence of national media....
Indians are waking up to the ongoing poll for selecting the new seven wonders of the world and gearing up to vote to ensure that Taj gets in...
The God-men who have millions of followers and teach morality in public turned out to be fraudulent commission agents, caught in a sting ope...
Attack on MLA Rumi Nath in Assam signifies a new low for Indian society: Corruption okay, Choice of husband not!Corruption fine, not woman's choice of husband! We tolerate corruption worth billions, raise no voice against injustice to poor and...
She was so gorgeous that a 10-year-old kid fell in love with her on the movie sets and would stand for hours, intently watching her. The chi...
The headline 'Umpires beat India' summed up the mood in India. As millions of fans once again saw Steve Anthony Bucknor give decisio...