the auto driver’s point of view

When four people want to ride in an autorickshaw, someone has to sit up front, one cheek on the driver’s seat, arm around the driver to keep from falling out. With three girls as my fellow passengers, front-seat duty was mine. And here’s what I saw, with my camera held at exactly the level of the auto driver’s eyes:


I’ve seen a similar banners on taxis and autorickshaws around the country,  taking up precious visual real estate one would expect to rely on to see the massive trucks bearing down on you with no intention of turning. This particular banner read “Al Lazam” (the driver’s name? His favorite soccer team? Free advertising for his brother’s restaurant?). Fully one fifth of his windshield was blocked by this opaque blue bar  — exactly the portion best utilized to see what vehicle is hellbent on ramming you next.

Is driving in this country not already dangerous enough?

With three girls in the back and me in the front, the auto driver decided to make me look cool. He grabbed my hands and put them on the motorcycle-style controls, the left hand working the brake and the right pumping the accelerator. For fully ten seconds I was in charge, discovering that the steering mechanism is surprisingly stiff and sensitive at the same time. The auto driver laughed along with me until he suddenly wrested back the controls and saved us from a car I had no idea was coming. The blue bar may have prevented me from seeing more than fifty feet in front, but somehow the driver was able to manage — ending my career as an auto driver as soon as it began, and saving all of us from becoming Keralan road sambar.

Another example of intentional auto blindness:


5 responses to “the auto driver’s point of view

  1. Hamara pyara Hindustan. 🙂

  2. Isnt this the fun part of driving in India. Auto walas are no less than stunt drivers…they are dare devils in their own right.

  3. I’ve done exactly that, minus the actually driving the autorickshaw part. Awesome.

    If you need some Autorickshaw accompaniment, well, our band is called Autorickshaw… a testament to our love of living on the edge (or on three wheels)

    Love your blog, btw..I want the Dave and Jenny Bollywood style guy to paint our next album cover!

  4. The odd thing about the bottom picture is that that the top part is the masculine form of the name, Nishad, while the bottom- ending in “mol” is the feminine. Maybe he knows two nishads?

  5. lol! the nishad mon driver is nuts! its too funny, how does he drive like that? hehe, i couldnt stop laughing at that one.
    I dont drive here, but my bf does and he told me, there really are people on the road that reverse when they miss their turns and the other day, I saw motorbikes go up on the sidewalk to bypass traffic on our way to delhi. 🙂

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