Monday, February 03, 2014

Part III: The Amazing Autowallahs of Hyderabad

While reading so many travel blogs in the past years, I have wondered one specific thing- how do travelers bump into ‘characters’ worth writing about when they are in a strange new place? Probably it’s just a little conversation that one needs to strike with some random person which ultimately results in such wonderful stories, I used to think. But then, I went to Hyderabad and met some such ‘characters’ myself without feeling the need to start a conversation!

Hyderabad streets are flooded with the Yellow-Black Autos. This picture was taken from the Charminar, Hyderabad.
One of the weirdest things that happened to us on our trip to Hyderabad was the unique auto drivers/autowallahs we got at each point of our travel. Yes, unique. Each one in his own different way. There were the ‘Tell me the way’ guy, the ‘Preach while you drive’ guy and more. One city, three days and so many different quality-filled autowallahs! I haven’t seen such interesting characters in Delhi yet!


The ‘tell me the way’ guy

When our train chugged into what I felt was Hyderabad city, I switched on the Nokia Drive App on my phone and keyed in our prebooked hotel. I wanted to see the roads and the areas we pass by as the train made its way to the station. I wanted to get to know the city as much as I could in the short trip. The app struggled to find the nearest ‘road’ from my location, because apparently it didn’t know that I was on a train route!

Our train reached Secunderabad Railway Station at midnight, 3 hours after its scheduled arrival. On getting out of the station, we were met with the scene very usual at all railway stations in the country- All the auto and cab drivers forcing you to hire their vehicle to your destination. And you are a tourist of course; you have no idea of the prices and get charged exorbitantly.

We decided to hire a pre-paid auto from the designated counter at the entrance. We got into the auto and I took my phone out to continue my tryst with knowing the Hyderabad roads as we made our way to the hotel. It was around 10 kms from the Secunderabad Railway Station at a place called ‘Lakdikapul’. There was some kind of a traffic mess for the exit. It’s past midnight; do all trains arrive at this time? In a few minutes we were out to the main road. The app showed me that we had to take the immediate left after exiting the station. The autowallah instead took the road straight and took a left turn after about a kilometer. Must be another way to the hotel that he knows, I thought. The app didn’t show any big difference in the distance as it found the new route and I started looking out of the auto, to the now closed city markets.

Rasta bata dena, mujhe nahi pata. Ye naya jagah hai, kabhi nahi gaya mai’, the autowallah blurted out taking all of us by surprise. (Tell me the way, I don’t know. It’s a new place, I have never been there)

Are you serious? I thought.

Rasta nahi pata to aaye kyun? Hume kaise pata hoga rasta?’ my father started. (Why did you come if you didn’t know the way? How do you expect us to know the way?)

Sensing a rise in the internal temperature of the situation and for the first time ever, relying 100 % on my dearest Nokia Drive app, I immediately said, ‘Aage se left lo’. (Take a left!)

Slowly we made our way to the place called ‘Lakdikapul’ passing by the Hussain Sagar Lake. For the first time my father appreciated the utility of a smartphone! As we retired for the night we knew we had an awesome start to our trip. You are the tourist and you are guiding the local autowallah with the road directions, how often does that happen? Surely, the app was the star of the night!


The ‘preach while you drive’ guy

On our second day in the city, we visited the Birla Temple in the morning. Our next destination for the day was the Sudha Cars Museum, about 8 kms away. We hired an auto with the most talkative autowallah in the city! He went on talking and telling us about the city, the tourist places and why we ought to spend five minutes at a pearl shop he knew. Not much of his talks were new to me. Straight out from a travel guide, they were. I had read enough of them before the trip. He started getting on my nerve soon.

Unfortunately, the one thing that he did manage to do by the time we reached the museum was to convince my father to hire him for the full day for 500 bucks during which he would be taking us to the Golconda Fort, Snow World, the pearl shop, Karachi Bakery and then back to our hotel, unless we wanted to go somewhere else! Dad thought it was a good deal and hired him for the day.

From the Museum he took us to Golconda Fort. We were all hungry and he referred us to a good budget restaurant- it serves the best food in this area. He asked for 100 bucks and gave his mobile number so we could call him when we were 10 minutes away from exiting the fort so he could pick us up. We had lunch at the restaurant and it turned out to be bad, seriously. We hated the food! We then went for the nearly 3 hour trek inside the Golconda Fort. As we were about to reach the exit, we gave the autowallah a call and he said he would be there waiting for us. We reached the exit. No sign of him. We called him again. 5 minutes and I will be there. We waited for 20. Still no sign of him. Dad’s temper was on the rise. He suggested we take another auto rather than waste time in waiting. We did.

About 30 minutes after that, the autowallah called up complaining that he couldn’t find us and that we had left without paying him. Dad was obviously angry and simply told him to come to our hotel in the morning the next day and collect his dues. He didn’t turn up. We didn’t hear or see him again.

Considering the increasing length of this post, I think I shall write about the third autowallah in a sequel. It was in fact, when we took the final auto from our hotel to the railway station, that we met ‘The studying MCA’ guy and that was when I had decided on writing this post. Do come back to read the story of the most amazing autowallah I have ever met.

Other posts in this series: 

2 comments :

  1. awww that's quite an adventure on the roads of Hyderabad ..HEHEH Enjoyed the post ! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shilpi. Another post in continuation to this one is coming up soon. If you liked this, you must not miss the next one at any cost! ;)

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