M3 Views

Devil’s Advocate

Dibyojyoti Pal  | February 5, 2014

If you have been following the news lately, there is a big bad wolf out on the streets in Kolkata. It is cracking open skulls, strangling women, snatching babies to make chicken stew and is a steady nightmare now in every Bangali's bhaat-ghoom. Yes you guessed it right. The Auto-Rickshaw!

But why? While every newspaper and TV channel is falling over each other to dig up one horror news story after another, no one seems to ask this simple question. Why have the trusted nanoparticles of public transport in Kolkata suddenly transformed into werewolves for whom the full moon never seems to set? Actually there's a simpler answer than you would expect -- they haven't.

Let me play the devil's advocate here for a bit. Yes despite some of them driving like F1 drivers disqualified for speeding on the circuit (if that was ever a thing) -- right through a millimeter of space with one wheel on the road, one on the pavement and the third on a screaming passenger's foot. But generalizing all auto-drivers as demons? NEIN! NEIN!! NEIN!!!

Putting all of this aside though, I have always wondered how autowallahs keep their patience in spite of daily passengers like us. For one, Bangali passengers always close ranks like a Spartan army when they even THINK one of them has been wronged. You thrusting a hundred-rupee note for a fare of ten bucks is "oto khuchro kotha theke pabo dada?" while an autowallah denying you change for the same automatically qualifies him as "shoytaner haddi". I remember once an auto I was travelling in almost turned turtle, for a fool abruptly started crossing the road on a bicycle with 20 coconuts in tow. The auto scraped a solitary coconut, which dropped off and rolled down the road. Then out of nowhere two bikes stopped behind us and opined, "auto chalate jane na eder license ked eye?! mere eder narkel fatiye dewa uchit." The autowallah couldn't hear them though, since he was busy chasing the coconut.

As if all of these daily insults were not enough, ABP has decided to add a brand new supplement titled ‘Auto-Douratto’. And since ABP is not really known for their sensitivity or fairness in reportage, you can guess the results.

{Fact: If you slip on a banana peel and conk yourself into a coma, an ABP news report will go: “bari te wait korchhilen onar ma. 50 bochhor periyeche tobu nijer haathe mochar ghonto khaiye diten chele ke. kintu chhele je aar firbe na. Ek sobuj kolar khosaye pa pichhle tini ekhon mrityur songe panja lorchhen. Mukhyomontri ki kichui bolben na er poreo? Kola byabsai der douratto ki dine dine berei cholbe? Jante hole dekhun Proti-Pokkho. Aaj raat thik 9 taye.”}

But the funnier part is, there is a strange absence of the auto drivers’ version of the stories. The quotes are almost always from the bhodrolok. This condescending attitude is the embodiment of ganging up on auto/bus drivers on the road - ready for a lynching at the drop of a monkey-cap.

To conclude, here is another story I heard from a friend. A speeding auto almost collided with a rickshaw, when it braked and slammed into the divider. The auto driver got out and started beating up the guy sitting beside him in the auto. The surprised rickshaw-walla and clueless bystanders tried to stop them when the auto driver yelled --- "byata auto chalachhi ami aar brake tui mere dili?"

This, my friend, is the secret. When tempers flare, the paablik gets the last word. What actually happened gets buried in stifled guffaws and idle gossip. 


[Read previous posts on Silly Popsicle  >>]

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Comments (1)
Sugandha Reply
February 05, 2014
Hillarious! Well done.. again. And, yes. In bongo-desh, only the word of the bhodrolok matters. Eta abaar ekta bhodroloker moton proshno holo!!??
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