What trip to India would be complete without a ride in an auto rickshaw?
|Example of the ratio of autos to other vehicles|
Making up easily half of the vehicles I see on the roads of Chennai, these little yellow and black vehicles offer cheap and quick transportation around the city. And, unlike air conditioned taxies, the sights, sounds and smells of the city easily reach your senses through their open air sides. While riding in an auto rickshaw, you experience a truly unique viewpoint on India... that is, when your life isn't flashing before your eyes.
Safety in an auto rickshaw is solely dependent on your driver. Some seem to make it their business to squeeze through the tightest traffic gaps and speed along the very edge of the road, dodging hapless pedestrians. For protection, many drivers plaster their autos with pictures of religious icons.
Ironically, every auto is equipped with a meter... which is rarely, if ever, actually working. The price for the trip is haggled over prior to departure, but don't be surprised if they try to increase the price upon arriving at your destination. However, as the extra is usually less than a dollar, its hard to find the will to argue.
On the plus side, one of the unexpected benefits of these trips have been the inadvertent ab workouts - amazing what being constantly braced for impact while you struggle to maintain your balance on the slippery seat in a weaving auto will do for your core muscles. Of course, this is a moot point when you off-set the workout with masala dosas...