I knew it.
I knew it from the time I was a little child, that three was an unlucky number. How was I to know that that number would come to haunt me day in and night out, when I was out driving on the roads?!
Three wheelers! Auto rickshaws. Autos. Whatever you choose to call them.
They scuttle across the Northern part of Mumbai like they own it. As a matter of fact, they think they do. That part of the city is largely infested by them and as they increase in epidemic proportions, the lesser population can do nothing but give in. Give in to the noise, the indiscipline and the sheer incorrigibility of the auto rickshaws (and their drivers) of Mumbai.
I’ve seen them in other cities and I am sure they are worse. But in a city where I am myself behind the wheel, these three-wheelers take gross (or maybe pestilential) proportions.
Cockroach! I say with venom as one scuttles right across me cutting into my flight path.
If there was an evolution of species in the automobile world, autorickshaws would be the equivalent of cockroaches. Darwin, God bless his soul, would have heartily agreed with me, if he sat with me in my passenger seat, that they do behave like cockroaches.
For one, they have this amazing capacity to scuttle infuriatingly slowly in front of you. Then, again like cockroaches, they can turn around and face you and look you squarely in the eye in a blink. And the pestilence does not end there. They have this amazing capacity, like their creepy-crawly lookalikes to weasel themselves into the smallest of places and add to the mayhem that already exists on the roads.
What’s really uncanny about this resemblance, (and believe me, guys, I am sort of getting a doctorate in this area of research now!), is their fragile quality – a push here, a shove there, or a decent-sized pothole and they’ve upturned themselves very much like the insect upended with flailing limbs and antennae.
I was once in an autorickshaw that was knocked down by a bus! The bus just gave a gentle nudge and the vehicle toppled sideways, went skidding around in circles till it came to a complete stop. When the spinning stopped, from being seated vertically, my friend and I were now sideways, almost in a crouch-like position in contact with the road. We emerged from the autorickshaw in full view of a very helpful crowd, like Goddesses emerging out a lotus. If I was not involved in the accident myself, it would have been funny. Needless to say, if you’ve ever seen an auto toppled sideways and the driver emerging with great agility out of the side entrance of the auto, you’ll know what I mean.
It is said that in case of a nuclear holocaust the only species likely to survive is the cockroach.
I would add to that, it will be the cockroach and the auto rickshaw driver. Let me explain. Have you ever had an anxious moment when your car indicator is not working and you have to either resort to hand signals or worse still, no signals till you get quick help from a mechanic? The auto driver never has that anxious moment. In the first place, he’s unlikely to use any indicators (or even headlights in pitch darkness) at all. Secondly he is unlikely to give signals… he just likes to keep that surprise element going in your life. But, in case, just in case, one fine day, he does decide he wants to signal a right or a left turn, he doesn’t depend on indicator or hand signals. Driving behind an auto while you are concentrating on his next move, oops! What’s this? Voila! Here’ a leg! Out pops a foot from the side! You blink. It’s either bare or shoddily clad in footwear that has seen better days, precariously dangling from the toes. And its gracelessness is somehow telling you that our fellow traveler is likely to turn right. Talk about being footloose and fancy-free.
So what’s the solution for these road cockroaches? A good pest control spray. If you ask me my choice, I would pass over Baygon Spray and choose HIT!

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