There is something to be said for auto rides. I mean, seriously. Beside my fascination with the profession, an auto ride is an experience you cannot forego. Particularly in Chennai city.
Okay, okay, so you have to come equipped with a full wallet. I agree. And you cannot be delicate or faint-hearted because you have to be able to survive the potholes and swerves and manoeuvring that an auto does. It is literally a video game that emphasises survival at all odds.
There may be distractions such as an impossibly large display of Vijay on the windscreen, or an array of God and Goddesses, thereby testifying to the Automan's secularism.
But if you survive the obstacle course and manage to get over the colourful decorations, an auto is an excellent place to think.
This morning, I reached office only to find that I was not allowed to park in my usual spot due to a police programme. I had really no choice but to go back all the way home, leave my car and take an auto. I hate wasting money on autos but this time I surrendered.
It was a pleasant change to have someone drive me around. When I'm driving, there's atleast one half of my brain concentrating on the road (while unconsciously emulating Speed Racer on an Obstacle Course). The other's listening to music and trying to psych myself for the day ahead. But in an auto, there's nothing of that sort. I am not alone with myself. There's a person who's having his own thoughts in that little space. There's no need for conversation. Silence is implied but it is not forced. For once, you don't have to be someone or say something or convey an impression. You're alone and also, you're not.
Maybe it's the open sides of the auto that add to the effect. Whatever it is, I definitely feel connected to the world.
There's noise, there's dust, there's confusion as can only be in India and you're part of it all.
And when you place a couple of notes (not a couple anymore, I'm afraid) in the stranger's hand and get out of the teeny little vehicle, you realise that you're never going to see this person again.Maybe you're more privileged than he is, maybe you're educated and he is not. But for ten minutes, you shared a world.