Yesterday was long day; in the sense I was up quite early and went to bed quite late. But yesterday was also the day that got me thinking on three different topics, all due to three different kind of people I met.
The first was a woman who was begging near Minerva circle. I have this funda of not offering money to those who beg with a child in their hand. They poke, nudge and do anything that they can, to freak out people sitting in their vehicles to get a rupee or two, with which they supposedly feed the baby. I no longer believe thats the case after reading a story in Bangalore mirror on babies being available for rent in the city for begging! So whenever someone approaches me for money with a baby in their hand, I give them a few biscuit if I happen to have a pack with me.
And I did this time too, only my hand was rudely pushed away!! She didn’t want food for her baby or herself apparently! She just wanted money! Now why does she need money? To pay for the ‘protection’ some local goon is offering her? Does she need this money to patch the roof of the hut she stays in?
I couldn’t shake out the thought of this woman almost the entire day, it remained somewhere in the back of my head, until I reached PvR. I was reminded of an incident that happened to me last week.
I had planned to go for a malayalam movie – Kadha parayumbol – for a long time and it was only that day that I got company. N decided to come along on the promise that I will translate the movie to her (not a mallu u see)!! As I was the first one to reach, I decided to buy tickets for the movie, I decided to buy the tickets from Cinema Europa where the movie was playing.
Me: Got seats for kadha parayumbol?
Man at counter: Yes sir, how many seats do you want
Me: Oh cool, I need two seats pls
Counter: Here is the ticket
Me: I offered him Rs 500 note..
Counter: Here is the change sir.. he gives me back Rs 180. Now, I don’t always count money I get or check if I got the exact change. But this time something though I did and when I did, I realised that the ticket prices were just Rs 300 and he has charged me Rs 320. So I stood there confused trying to understand where the balance 20 went. The guy at the counter saw my expression and immediately shot me a question… “How much did I give you sir?”
Me: You gave me 80!
Counter: Really sorry sir, pls give me 80 I will give back 100
(I did and he did)
Now I was totally confused, if the ticket prices were only 300 why did he charge me 320? Was he trying to make a small profit and did he just play the ‘sorry-sir’ role because he felt I was going to protest? Would he have given me 20 bucks back if I hadn’t stood there with a puzzled expression?
This incident happened last week so was easier to put aside for me then… after finishing my work at Forum (which included buying a few moser-baer movie cds) I was off to M G Road and like always I took my favourite ride in the city! Auto rickshaw.
Autos all over south India have a negative aura around them you know. In Kochi auto drivers will demand all the money in you wallet. In Chennai traveling by taxi is cheaper that auto. In Bangalore your experience with auto guys will depends on your bargaining skills and your ability to maaro senti (will blog later abt this)
So today I wanted to go from Forum to Brigade road and surprisingly no one was out bargaining like they would usually. There was a sign of desperation on their faces and I couldn’t figure why, until the driver of the auto I was traveling in got talking.
Apparently there is a shortage of CNG gas in the city (It is compulsory in Bangalore for autos to use CNG, they cannot run on petrol)
Auto: No gas bhaiyya, hum log auto kaise chalayange? I have two three litres left, what after that…..??
Me: Then why are you wasting that too? Why don’t you wait till all other autos run out of gas and run your auto demanding higher rates? (trying to be sarcastic)
Auto: (laughs) Good idea, but if I don’t run auto today, and make some money, who will give me money for a things I need to buy for my family?
I didn’t have an answer to that question. For the first or may be second time in my life, I felt pity for an auto guy in Bangalore. He was a nice chap, he did not speak another word, he just drove well and dropped me at Residency Road – Brigade Road junction. I gave him ten rupee extra on the meter. He did not utter a word still, nor did his expression change. He pocketed the money and waited there for the next customer. In spite of making a few extra rupees, he did not look happy, he still wore a confused expression which made me feel like he was simply playing a prank on me. He did make the extra ten bucks which I would have otherwise not given and that too without any bargaining at all!
So was that senti just a way of making extra money without having to ask for it? Did he actually deserve extra money because he was going through a rough stage?