Aaja meri gaadi main baith ja
Long drive jaayenge full speed jayenge
Kahi rukhenge na hum gaana bajaana khaana peena
gaadi main hoga sanam...pom pom
Aaja meri gaadi main baith ja
Aaja meri gaadi main baith ja"
Remember this Baba Sehgal's fun song from the 90's? Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!
Well, if there is one of the many things that I missed during my stay in the USA for 6 years, it had to be the ´Grand Auto Drive. It is as much an intrinsic part of the Indian tradition, culture and ethos as much as the chutki bhar sindhoor, the bindi,the gehne, the sari- salwar-ghagra trio, the latkas, jhatkas and thumkas of Bollywood, the teen maar dance, the street side chaat bandis and ghanna juice stalls, haath se khana, sipping on nariyal pani and shaving off the malai after that...vagera vagera...You know!
So, if anyone out there is planning to pay a visit to India, you know what you have to do. "Be in India as Indians do".
And may I suggest the best place to start off on this Indian adventure! Yes, it all begins with the Indian tuk-tuk ride aka the auto rickshaw. Ham sab ke Hero Hiralal! (Haan..haan! Isi kushi mein thud lassi bhi ho jaaye..haye haye!)
I have had some of the most prolific discourses with these common legends ..be it over KCR's government regime or ruing over our long lost ´sau´or paanch sau´ ke notaan (in the Hyderabadi lingo) after the ´notaan ban´ to some of life´s lessons on happiness to having a fun quiz on my true roots. On some occasions, I have been blessed to have got some expert tips on how to cure my itchy throat by eating some bajre ki roti fire cooked on stone. Ahem! Some true raste chaap wisdom!
But caution please! While most of them are harmless really, some of them could be downright sleazy and annoyingly frustrating. Apart from the haggle of bargaining over the auto fare, very recently I had to stop the Auto right in the middle of my destination and just get out as soon as possible. If I wasn't still reeling from the shock of an unbelievably crude conversation, I ought to have snapped a picture of the auto vehicle no on my phone and send it to the some mahila organisation for emotional atyachaar. Live Zee Horror Show right there! Bachao!
Otherwise, an Auto ride is a ´must do´experience in India. I wish I could carry along some chai along the way. It would add to the fun quotient. But of coure, we are in a frikkin´auto rickshaw and not an airplane. For now, let that be Modi´s pleasure ....Chai pe charcha and all! Tsk..tsk!
Also, How I wish they still had the old style three wheeled cycle rickshaw. That would have been even better....longer ride plus discussion is one guaranteed memorable journey while slow crawling through the streets of the city and sinking my teeth into one piping hot roasted butta. True slow pace lifestyle like in the purana days. Bliss!
Before these Ola and Uber cabs take over the country and wipe out the Autorickshaws completely from the face of India, I would strongly urge you to enjoy this ´soon to be´ vintage experience despite the minor inconvenience.