Sunday, March 06, 2011

At the extremes ...

I am tired and thirsty. While striding towards my boarding gate at the new, swanky terminal, I pass by a small kiosk selling snacks and drinks. Having walked past, I stop, re-evaluate my thirst and decide to get a drink. So I turn around and approach the kiosk. There is no one there. A few knocks on the counter produces a shop-keeper. I name my choice of drink but he seems confused. As the cooler opens outward anyway, I calmly pick out a juice bottle and place it on the counter. "35 Rupees", he says. I open my wallet and realise that I have only one '10' and one '20', and some '500' notes. I look up to hand over a 500 note and this time there is another one at the counter- a girl, she looks at the note, tries to smile and says, "a smaller note would be there with you?" "No, I only have 30 or this", and try to hand over the note. She persists, "but I will also not have 5 in change." I wave my hand in response and shrug, "fine, take 40." She reluctantly takes the 500 note.

At this, the guy is about to open a jar of some chocolates in order to offer one to me, in return for the extra 5. But she taps his hand and says to him "nahin, isko mat dena" (no, don't give it to him) and hands over the change of 460 to me. Taken slightly aback, I walk away with my drink, satiate my thirst and wonder- did I actually manage to appear like a rich conceited brat to a shop-keeper? Wow, now that's a new achievement :D

****

I had already been snubbed by 5 auto-wallas. None of them seem even remotely interested to go where I needed to be taken. Quite surprising as I want to go to a busy area, not some remote corner of the city. On top of that, the early afternoon sun was trying its best to burn us all up. I hail down another auto-rickshaw and shout across the street, "City-centre mall, Banjara Hills." I cross over to his side quickly enough to hear is response, "60." It was a bit too high. "Arre, 40 ee ekkuva" (40 is more than enough), I argue. He shakes his head, "akkadanundi malli khaali ravalsuntadi, andukane 10 kalipanu" (I will have to return empty from there, hence I merely added 10). I couldn't agree with his logic at all, "Mall adi! akkada kuda dorakaru ante inkekada dorukutaru? sare 50" (That is a mall, if you can't get customers even there, where else will you get? let's say 50). Perhaps, my bargaining skills have taken a beating and he refuses to negotiate. So I end up agreeing to 60 and jump in.

Through the middle of the journey, he has to break very hard, and just about manages to avoid hitting a guy who suddenly jumped out of a running bus, right in the middle of the road. On resumption of the travel, the driver starts complaining on how it wasn't his fault at all. I completely agree with him though also alert him that one always has to be extra careful when over-taking city buses on the left, as people tend to jump out suddenly like that. Soon our conversation moves over to other things. Eventually, at the destination, I hand him exactly 60. He looks at the bunch of notes and asks, "enta?" (how much?). "60", I reply, trying to guess his thoughts and bracing myself for an argument in case he demands more. He smiles and says, "50 chalu" (50 is enough) and returns 10 back to me. How often has an Hyderabadi auto-wallah taken the initiative to reduce a fare already agreed on?

6 comments:

Vivek said...

Loved the post.
Why don't you write more like these :P
Oh wait. Maybe because you are living in an almost perfect world otherwise :)

kunal said...

Loved reading it :)

And I think you are pulling your readers' legs when you say that an auto-wallah in Hyderabad reduced the fare already decided!

Gopal said...

Neetho anthasepu matlaadaaka papam anipinchidemo vadiki..

thread said...

finally something worth reading

Sophoricist said...

You didn't the chocolates as she thought it would spoil your teeth

mythalez said...

@vivek, really? I thought it was a banal narration :D .. and what is this perfect life you talk about .. how does it look? :P

@kunal, hehe I guess clear simple story scores over an abstract complex beauty any day :P .. but I am telling the truth! he gave me back the 10 .. truly incredible :D

@gopal, :P maybe he thought he shouldn't be scamming me that much :P

@paccha, really?! :P

@sophoricist, yeah you are right, I guess that is why girls don't give me chocolates :P