Bangalore. What might otherwise have been considered a routine price haggling between a Bangalore Autowala and a passenger turned ugly when the passenger was none other than our own Rahul Dravid. Jammy was looking for an Auto to Chinnaswamy Stadium for the IPL match between RCB and DD, when he met this Autowala, who allegedly took him on a joy ride causing him to reach the venue 2 hours late and hence miss the match.
In the post-match conference later in the day, Rahul broke down before media, “The Autowala took me 3 kms, after which he said that there was a lot of traffic and he won’t go any further. Stadium was still away and I had to catch another auto-rickshaw, but not before paying this guy.”
With a lump in his throat, Rahul informed that even though the meter read 40 rupees, Autowala charged him 80 rupees because it was Sunday. “And when I handed him a 100 rupee note, he refused to give back the balance, saying, poora khaali aana saahab (will have to go back without any passenger) and demanded 50 rupees more as return fare!” Dravid recounted his horror.
Worried that he might get late for the match, Dravid paid the Autowala after some minor altercation, but he could not get an auto for another one-and-a-half hours as no other auto driver was ready to go to the stadium for lesser than 250 bucks.
“This is insane!” Dravid sounded like any other Bangalorean.
While the Autowala in question, identified as Girdhaari K, remained unavailable for comment as he had won a contest to meet IPL cheerleaders, his elder brother Murrari K confessed that Autowalas and their families were under acute financial pressure due to inflation, especially the rising prices of electronic goods and air tickets.
“Sir, while other people are having Blackberries and Iphones, we have to be content with Nokia E72s. While other’s children play with Ipod nanos, our children are stuck with Sony MP3 players. Can you even imagine our plight?” a visibly distraught and teary-eyed Murrari told our reporter, further claiming that Rahul Dravid had caused acute mental pain to his brother and family members.
Enraged by this incident, the Autowala Association for Asian Geo-Zone (A3G) has threatened a continent-wide auto-rickshaw strike to press for a bill to legalize three times the meter-fare as the final fare. Certain human right activists and social workers like Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy have expressed willingness to join the struggle.
On the other hand, Bollywood Actor Irfan Khan has jumped in to support the cause of the auto-passengers. “Dada aaj auto me ek sau rupaye lagta hai, kal ek lakh kam pad jayega.” Irfan reminded an innocent middle-class bystander, who gulped in fear. “Toh call karo aur pata karo exactly kitna hona chahiye aapka future Auto fare.” he further detailed out pension plans for auto passengers and their families.
Meanwhile IPL Chief Lalit Modi has chipped in and expressed concern for the security of players. He threatened to cancel all the IPL matches in Bangalore if any such incidents were repeated. It’s not yet clear why Dravid had to take an Auto while other players were ferried in an AC bus. Some fans cite it as an example of raw deal that Jammy had always been getting from the game administrators.