Grandma's Tales

October 6, 2006

Auto! Auto! 2

Filed under: Auto — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 10:48 pm

When I hire an auto, I agree to pay the amount demanded if it is not too obscene. But I have one condition. I want a noise-free ride. If you lived in Chennai you would know what I mean.

Most of the autos now run without their silencer. Not that you could have put a baby to sleep in them earlier, but without the silencer the “tuk, tuk, tuk, tuk” grate is simply unbearable. It is a loud, tinny sound that reaches deep into your head and starts an echo. It is terrible. You hear it at 11 pm when the guys go home and at 4 am when they ferry their first passenger. Some of the drivers themselves complain of the noise. And I caught a woman plugging her ears with cotton balls as soon as she stepped into the auto.

Why do they do it? Automan’s reason: “Drivers around me have no clue to handling their vehicles! I need to make noise to get them out of the way!” Coming from him this is rich. Most auto drivers would easily qualify for the job of circling inside the globe in a circus.

Guessed reason#1: How will people in top floors of multi-storeyed apartments know there is transport waiting to take them to their destination?

Guessed reason# 2: Removing the silencer is a sure way to save fuel. The silencer blocks the exhaust from releasing freely. The dirty air backflows, pushes into the engine and overloads it. The more the engine is pushed, the more fuel it needs. Autos cannot afford to waste fuel. So out goes the silencer leaving the engine to make a racket the minute it is switched on. ( If this is crap, I did not invent it.)

I am on the auto warpath. I make my deal and refuse to board if the vehicle makes “the noise”. I will step in only after a demo. You should see their faces when I walk away. Most times I am a no-bargain customer. At all times I am a no-nonsense one.

I have a sneaking feeling. If all of us refuse to pay for a ride that would make us partially deaf, automen will start thinking about withdrawing this non-verbal onslaught.


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