Sunday, 3 June 2012


No cheating. This is an old post, written almost a year back. Still. I want to show it off here (the second reason being, I AM quite a show-off!!). Months back, while walking down the erstwhile Great Eastern Hotel footpath (erstwhile, because the hotel is been renovated and reincarnated), I chanced upon a small roadside stall which sold everything for Rs.5/- . Amazed at the huge variety of stuff and the incredible customer-friendly price, I stood there for a while. Among safety pins, erasers, rubber bands and 50 other odd things, there was a plastic auto ricksaw. Very tiny, quirky and had a charm almost ten times as much as its size. And that cute little thing encouraged me with the post…a post about my favorite public transport on the Kolkata roads.
The foremost reason for re-posting (you already know the second reason) is, during the 70% sale at Mother Earth, I bought an amazing set of book-ends (worth 799 bucks) at an unforgettable 229 rupees. I was thrilled. Don’t be jealous, some people are born lucky ;)

By the way, here’s the old post in a new blog with a few edits, of course.
The reasons behind the unqualified love and affection for the vehicle are many and some of them are here:-

1.       For auto’s “janlar dhhar” (window seat). It is THE only public transport on the road which has such a cool window seat. I recollect, how on lazy days, I have refused 2-3 auto ricksaws just to get into the one with the coveted seat. No other window seat gives you a 66% body exposure and let you enjoy the breeze at an optimum level. (The last sentence totally sounded like “open the window and let atmosphere come in” but, could’nt come up with a better expression, seriously)

2.       Point No. 1 was meant for the back seat. But I also love the window seats next to the driver’s, especially the one on his right. It remains the most undisturbed seat. No “didi-ektu-namun-to-ei-jonno-bolechilam-bhetore-boshun-ami-agey-nambo”-hindrances. Not that I blame them. They also belong to “love for point No.1 above” category. In recent times of CNG autos, the seat on the driver’s left remains equally peaceful. You don’t have to get down every time the auto stops and the driver pulls that weird rod below your seat unendingly to start the vehicle again. And of course, the seats next to the driver’s give you a 100% body exposure. (I know this sounds bhojpuri-english, but I still could’nt find a better expression).

3.       85% of autos have radios. Pure awesomeness. This is one of the foremost yardsticks by virtue of which auto emerges as a clear winner over ricksaws, trams, buses, taxis and share-cabs. I know we all have headphones. But the full-blast music, with dhinkchak purple-green-red tiny lights bordering the radio and the interiors remain unparallel entertainers. 
And, the autos perpetually play the radio station you generally like the least, playing songs with “uiamma uiamma” words, songs with double meanings and obscene lyrics or songs sung by Bappi Lahiri (refer to “chirodini tumi je amar, jooge jooge ami tomari...”). But, I don’t know why, I always end up enjoying the whole experience, just at the sight of the immense pleasure the auto-wala gets on hearing those songs.

4.       For the incessant dates we have had in autos. This was in Class 11-12, a decade back. On my way to tuitions, I used to meet him and was perennially gripped by this fear that someone may see us if we sat in a restaurant or a park. So there was this unwritten commandment (from my end, of course) that we would date mostly in the auto. Here too, the auto wins over buses for its “privacy” factor and taxis for the taxi’s “over-privacy” factor (you can have a single friendly co-passenger in an auto, but not in a Taxi!!!).
I remember our Taratolla to Deshapriyo Park auto rides (often to and fro), getting down from one auto and going into another and that’s it. A date consisting of 2-3 arbit auto-rides and bagful of memories.
By the way, on rainy days, auto-walas hang plastic curtains on the sides, as well. ;)

5.       Extreme pocket friendliness. I know many a times travelling the same distance by a bus and an auto costs you the same. When the minimum fare for both stands Rs.5/-, why take a bus? That also reminds me with petrol priced at Rs.78 a litre, very soon auto will rank first not only among my favourite public transports but among private ones as well.

6.       For the funny, heartwarming, insightful conversations I have often had with the auto drivers (Yes, I chat with them too). Whenever I get the front window seat, I invariably end up babbling with the auto-driver. It includes topics like football (where he talks and I listen), traffic jam, price-hike, movies (with special emphasis on Posenjit, Dev and Jeet from his end), his “chhele-meyer schooler tuition fees”, politics and the list goes on. Of course, the hottest topic being our lady CM (where we only talk and do not listen).

7.       The almost cent percent rate of non-refusal, unlike their notorious taxi-brethrens. To add to it, if you and the other 3 co-passengers are friends (preferably female) and you could nag him a little, the driver would even change his route and behave like a cabbie. I remember 3 of my friends and I had taken an auto from Park Circus. The last stop was Gariahat, as known to everyone who belong to the southern hemisphere of this city. However, we convinced him to take us to South City instead, at a meagre fare of Rs.10/- each. How terribly sweet was that!! On many Sundays, I have experienced the same good-Samaritan act (even alone… without female friends).

8.       For its nearly undefeatable way of sneaking past the buses, lorries, taxis and private vehicles at times of utmost urgency (read office-time). They are unparallel in taking short-cuts, taking wrong sides of the road and taking you to your desired destination almost on time.

9.       For the funny messages painted at the back of the auto. They are funny just for their simplicity. Statements like “manusher cheye chhagol dami”, “bhhara rakhun haater kachhe…somoy, jalani dui bache”, “shyekra ke rupo dilam payel kore dilo…driver ke gari dilam pagol kore dilo…”, “dekhle hobe khorcha ache”, “dekhbi r jolbi..luchir moto phoolbi” and the most common “najar lagale juta khabe” and a small rubber-sandal hanging next to it. They are often meaningless, often out of context, but they are still so much better than a bland “HORN OK TATA” or the clichéd “Mera Bharat Mahan”.

10.       On the way back home one day, an Auto-driver asked me “Khuki, kothay nambe?” ‘Khuki’ is a term Bongs use for very young girls. A little amazed (and also flattered), I chose to be honest and told him that I was not a “khuki” any more, was rather a much-married woman on the wrong side of twenties. He made my day with “ema, ami bhablam college e poro” (“I thought you are a college-student!”). In a flip of a second, the utter despair and the eternal disgust of being called Bhabi/Boudi by middle-aged hawkers and Aunty by school children of 10-12 years age group disappeared like magic!!  

And the perpetual bias towards the vehicle auto-matically increased manifold.



  1. Ditto ditto.. Just that I hate how autowallahs (from Rashbehari) now refuse to come to Behala and you have to get down either at Chetla or New Alipore petrol pump and hunt for another auto.

  2. continuing with funny messages painted at the back of the auto :
    'bhara kintu kom diyona shona
    bhalobasha chhara shobi-i kena'

  3. Suman Talukdar9 July 2012 at 09:25

    You are the Lady Chetan Bhagat! Am not joking..

    1. ore baba, puro kali thakurer moto libh ber kore lojja pelam!!