Diamonds in the rough?

I have often posted about how bad the tuk tuk drivers are here in Chennai. They see the white skin and little dollar signs flash in their eyes. A journey that should cost Rs 80 to a local will cost Rs 150 for a foreigner – as if we’re all made of money. Yeah, right!

There are some ways of dealing with the drivers, but they will use every excuse under the sun to try and charge you more; time of day, traffic, one way system, it’s 100 metres from the landmark you said, raining, sick child, 4 kids and well, any other excuse he can think of and tell you about in English.

If you catch tuk tuks everyday like I do to get to work and back, it’s pretty tiresome as you try and explain where you want to go (MAN-DA-VELLI!) and then bring the price down to a sensible amount. My number one expense at the moment (after umm, beer) is travelling around.

Anyways, a couple of things happened to me this week that made me think, maybe not all the tuk tuk drivers are that bad.

Outside my apartment is an informal stop for autos (the local word for tuk tuks). All the drivers know me now and we’ve settled on the inflated price of Rs 90 per journey. No need to bargain or explain where to go. A win-win situation all-round.

The other day there were no tuk tuks outside so I have to walk about 300m or so to the main road and find one. 300m doesn’t sound that far, but in 35 degree heat it doesn’t take much to get the sweat pouring off you! As I was walking down, one of the regular drivers stopped and said he was picking up his children from school and that I should get in. So I did.

What came next was a little suprising, he drives down to the main road, finds another tuk tuk driver, tells him where to drop me and how much to charge – brilliant stuff!

Then today, as I was walking back down the same road carrying two bags of heavy food shopping, another one of the regular drivers pulled up along side me and ushered me to get in. I then got dropped off outside my apartment and he waved me away when I offered him some money. Amazing!

So, not all tuk tuk drivers are thieving little badgers after all 🙂

1 Comments Diamonds in the rough?

  1. Vijay

    Once you are a “local”, local == living in the area that they live or where they do business, you will get favors like these.

    Favoring people you know (or nepotism) is quite rampant and encouraged in India.


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