Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Small Victories

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. 

          A photo of an auto from my first trip to India. 

            The view once you manage to get in an auto.