the reluctant autorickshaw

The following is something I’d written a while ago in a “learn kannada” forum… Real life incidents though not exactly verbatim…

Auto-rickshaw drivers of Bangalore nowadays have become more selective than infy in ‘choosing’ their ‘projects’! They usually refuse to go wherever a passenger wants to go, and drive off, and one has to stop several autos before getting a ride 😈 All these are unrelated incidents…


So I stop one and ask:

Me: yellige hogthaidira? (where are you going?)

Driver: neev yellige hobeku?? (where do you want to go??)

Me: naanu malleswarammige hobeku, neevu aakaDe hogongidre doD mans maaDi
swalpa drop koDak aaguta?

I need to go to Malleswaram, if you’re going that way can you be a bit
magnanimous and give me a drop?

Driver [laughing] : banni koothkoLi (come and sit)


Me: Malleshwaramige barthira? (will you come to Malleswaram)

Driver: Malleswaram illa (no Malleswaram)

[He’s about to drive off…]

Me: illa reee, beLege taane alle ittu! (no sir, in the morning it was right

Driver: [laughs] seri, koothkoLi (ok, sit)


Driver: [stopping at red light, though there is a free left turn]

free left ide togoLi parvaagilla (there’s a free left, take it, its ok)

Driver takes the free left

Me, couldn’t resist adding:
nanag yenanthe, police hiDkondre neeve taane fine kaTTbekaagirouru
(what for me, if police catch (you), you’re the one who has to pay the fine)

aaaaha!! matte free left andri!!!
(you said free left!!)

chinte maaDbEdi, sumne tamaashige heLde ashTe, nijavaaglu free left ide
(worry not, I was just kidding, its really a free left)


Signaled for an auto on the other side of the road. He just starts taking a U turn and a passing car sweres to the center of the road narrowly missing him (and continues). Then the road is empty and he takes the turn and comes to me.

ushaar ree swamy, giraaki nODid takshNa bere yenu bEkAgilva?
(careful sir, the moment you see the customer don’t you need anything else?)

shrugs his shoulders

Me [pausing about to get into the auto] :
nanag yenu AgtAirlila. aa carige swalpa scratch bitre yenu AgtAirlila. nimma
auto puDi puDi aagi nimma shareerada bhaagagaLannella bhUtakannaDi itkondu
(Nothing would’ve happened to me. Except for a few scratches nothing
would’ve happened to the car. Your auto would’ve been powdered, and we’d
have to look for the parts of your body using a magnifying lens).

[From the look of the driver, I think he did get the point! 😛 ]

[stopping an auto]
Me: yellige hogthaidira? (where are you going?)

This guy gave a quizzical look, and without losing his balance replied ‘Rajajinagarge hogthaidini’

Me: seri, hobuT banni (ok, carry on)

He: smiling understandably, zips off!

[sitting in an auto]
Driver: ee cargaLinda namige sikkaapatte tondre saar! roadnalli vodsake aagalla! (we get a lot of trouble from cars, we can hardly drive on the road!)

[I was totally zapped, because most car and every other kind of driver on the road finds the ubiquitous autos the greatest obstruction to traffic!]

Me: yelru nimbagge adanne heLtharalri!! (everyone says the same thing about you guys!!)

Driver explains: neeve nODi, namma auto yesht chikkadu, aadre car munde ardha kilometer, hinde onduvare kilometer, idI rasthe ne thogoLuthe! (you only see, our auto is so small, but the car is half a km length in front and one and a half km behind and occupies the whole road!)


Auto-rickshaw drivers are known to be a fussy lot – with sometimes obnoxiously polluting vehicles, many of them get licenses through corrupt ways totally ignorant of the traffic rules (and others who don’t care!).

On the other hand, they also make great conversationalists. They’re generally spread the use of Kannada, but many of them also speak in Hindi and other languages. They have often been known to return valuables left behind in their autos, either tracing the passenger or handing it over to the police station – even when it comes to lakhs of rupees! They’re the first ones anyone can ask for reliable directions to any place :mrgreen:

23 Responses to “the reluctant autorickshaw”

  1. Shruthi Says:

    This was very funny! :))
    I know somebody who used to ask that too – “Yellige hogtha iddira?” 😀
    I guess I don’t look like a Kannadiga, usually auto guys talk to me in Hindi. I ask them, “yaakri, kannada barallva?” Then they grin and say, “baratthe”, and then continue in Kannada 😉
    Chhe, if I try to write about my auto encounters, most of it would be arguments 🙁

  2. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    namma bengloor auto drivers yeshto vaasi. compared to their counterparts in neighbouring states, they take fares as per the meter(in most cases), unlike other states where we have to shell out whatever amount they say.
    and the best thing is that most of ‘namma auto driversu’ have an opinion on any topic in the world.
    as a small boy, i was always asked to get auto if any elders visited us. i had this habit of stopping zooming empty autos and ask them ‘time yeshtu?’. some of them used to really get bugged!who wouldn’t?). only after doing this would i get an auto.

  3. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    wanted to share these 2 instances:
    this one happened in the 80s. 2 of my aunties were going in the auto. suddenly one of them saw a poster of rajkumar’s film and spoke lightly of him. the auto-driver stopped then and there and ORDERED the two to alight. both my aunties had to ask him forgiveness. and he made them say nice things on rajkumar!

    saw this scene in front of my house in malleswaram. a lady from a neighbouring state had shifted next to our house a year ago. but she never made an effort to learn kannada. she used to talk to everyone in her language. once she came by auto after the ‘VANNANDA-AAF’ time. driver in kannada and this lady in her language kept arguing. the driver didn’t give her ‘change’ till she spoke in kannada.
    had fun seeing it!

  4. Narasimha Says:

    Sanjya thats a great post!, One of my freinds used to joke with Auto guys that they should hang boards indicating the buses do…:)

  5. Srik Says:

    One more thing about the autos :
    The auto drivers write the names of their wife, children, and loved ones on their autos. It shows their love for their family. But bellow that they write ‘Badigege’

  6. Jigar Says:

    Just get a good friend to give you a ride instead… 🙂

  7. Gangadhar Says:

    ha ha…hilarious post,Sanjay….
    Here,in hyderabad too…the samescene with autowalahs!!The problem arises for me whenever I wanna get an auto from secunderabad rly station to my home..because it will take just 15mints from the station..and they don’t want that minimum fare..If there’s no luggage i can go by bus..otherwise i’ve to pay extra charge for the auto….lolzz

  8. Prasanna Sastry, Hyderabad Says:

    Gangadhara, Even I stay at Hyd which part of the city are you from ???

    We are desparately looking for a Kannada speaking people. You can reach me on 9346310277

  9. Gangadhar Says:

    @Prasanna Sastry,
    I’m sorry..I’m a pure Andhrite..not a Kannadiga..But I can speak a very little Kannada….lolz…just kidding..
    And I understand that in Hyderabad we rarely see kannada speaking people…But the situation is not like that in Bangalore…I stayed in Bangalore five years back..And there’re so many telugu speaking people..Not only Telugu…i’ve seen multi lingual culture in Bangalore…I like Bangalore verymuch..Hyd is yet to grow up!!
    Anywayz…nice meeting you…

  10. Aravind Says:

    Be part of history and don’t miss the birth of a new motorsport. The Indian Autorickshaw Challenge is a 1000 km (590 miles) rally through the most scenic roads of South India in a three wheel motorized vehicle. The race is open to everyone regardless of experience, nationality, and age. Rickshaws will be provided by the organizers. You’ll have 2 days to prep your vehicle before the start.


  11. Jaimini (jam) Says:

    I am often tempted to say something similar to one of the incidents listed here, esp. when I don’t need an auto-
    Me: Indiranagar jaooge? (Will you go to Indiranagar)
    Auto guy: [In the unlikely event] Haan (yes)
    Me: Toh jaoo! (Then go there!)

  12. bellur ramakrishna Says:


    1) No two persons have the same fingerprints. Same way, No two autos will show the same amount even if you have travelled the same route.

    2) Auto drivers are great fans of NEWSPAPERS……specially eveningers.

    3) Auto drivers have this unique talent to look to their extreme RIGHT or LEFT and drive STRAIGHT at snail’s pace when there are lot of vehicles behind them.

    4) Isn’t it a mystery that nearly a dozen kids can be squeezed into an auto along with their bags dangling on both sides everyday effortlessly but you cannot sit with a couple of your suitcases and a handbag en route railway station for half an hour?

    5) Auto drivers are uncontrollable(in terms of speed) usually between 4 am and 6 am. they drive at break-neck speeds and break all traffic/one-way rules. they can reach koramangala from majestic in hardly 15-20 minutes.

  13. Naveen Says:

    chennagideri posting…bengalooru nenapaythu…mele itkolli(keep it up) 🙂

  14. msanjay Says:

    Naveen some things just aren’t meant for translation, eg “keep it up”!

    Wow was really fun to read all the comments out here on autos… thanks everyone!

    Heh heh Aravind, never imagined an auto-rally!

    Jigar, thanks for the suggestion, I guess I might just do that one more time 😉

    Shruti, after having met you I know why they start with Hindi with you – you did look somewhat like a north Indian 🙂

  15. wakeupbangalore Says:

    cool write…

    can find some intresting auto rikshaw drivers classifications on

  16. Sanjay Kattimani Says:

    Good article Sanjay. As naveen said “Mele itkolli”


  17. msanjay Says:

    hey nice to hear from you sanjay… 🙂 – another sanjay. Pretty colorful and interesting site you have there!

  18. msanjay Says:

    A must read!! 🙂

    Unspoken Contract With a Rickshaw Driver

  19. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    reading nipun’s story brought tears in my eyes. he is such a great human being!
    thanks a lot for giving us the link.

  20. msanjay Says:

    hey bellur glad you liked it… yeah it definitely struck some chord in me as well… just happened to come across it again while searching for something today.

  21. Mayunk Says:


    this was seriously funny stuff!!!! u took the bite out of the daily grinding of teeth, as we negotiated a new contract with the bangalore autos. as you rightly said, they are mcuh more selective than Infy in choosing “projects”. hahaha

    was amazed to read that they behave the same way with kannada speaking and/or kannadigas as well. i always thought Bangalore autos were the last word in racism— persecuting me for my whit(er) skin and UP(per) hindi.

    Glad to know it is not so. We are all equally harassed– except that you might eventually get him to go with a local-joke. For us, we need to call our biker-friends for a pickup after waiting 45 minutes!

    Good post!


  22. msanjay Says:

    yeah Jam there’s no racism here… :mrgreen: Thanks!

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