The night before my first day of work, my roommate's friend gave me advice on how much to pay for an auto rickshaw ride from the neighborhood where I live to my office in another part of town. Don't pay more than 50 rupees, she said. And leave early because they're often full during rush hour.
First day - I leave my house with plenty of time to spare and head down the block toward the market. After 15 minutes of waiting for a free auto and being rebuffed by two auto drivers who don't want to take me to where I need to go, I'm running late for my first day. A driver pulls up and offers 80 rupees. I say no, 60, and he drives off to the next potential fare 3 feet down the road. It's clearly not the best time to bargain. The next driver to pull up opens with 80 rupees, too. I say 70, he starts to drive away, I can't lose another auto, he wins. When I tell my new coworker how much I paid, she laughs.
Second day - I walk away from the market, where the competition for an auto is a little less stiff. Two drivers turn me away. When a third driver comes along, I try a new tactic - I hold on to the auto so that he can't drive away as easily when I counter his offer. And it works! I pay 70 rupees this time. Getting closer to my goal.
Third day - Two refusals for my destination and finally a willing driver. I ask him how much and he says, shockingly, 80 rupees. I start with 60. He says, "No no madam, only 70." I'm feeling a little sassy, apparently, so I say "No no, you know the normal price is 50, not even 60; 70 is just the price for me." Jackpot! He chuckles and says "Ok, 60." And we're off.
Maybe tomorrow I'll hit Rs. 50?
Side note: The difference between Rs. 80 and Rs. 50 is about 45 cents. Sure, it adds up in the long run, but it's the principle of the matter, damn it.