the auto-rickshaw, so abundant they merit their own wikipedia page. these are little three-wheeled cabs just large enough for two adult passengers. they’re the easiest way to get around if you have a short trip in mind.
usually you bargain with the driver. most travel sites recommend not getting in a cab unless the meter is used. you can see in this picture the red sign on the meter is still up, i had negotiated a flat rate for this trip. the drivers will say almost anything to not use the meter, including stating that the meter is inaccurate, they can’t make change, your trip is taking them too far out of the main area, etc. if you decide on a flat rate you negotiate that as well, and hope you aren’t being ripped off. and by “ripped off” i mean down to the rupee. and when all this is over, you realize you’ve just spend a lot of time arguing over one u.s. dollar‘s worth of money, or less.
one day, i was standing in a small group of rickshaw drivers trying to figure out which one knew where i wanted to go. i wanted a specific intersection near the bangalore palace grounds. they knew the area, but not the roads. the usual thing to do is to go as far or as close as you can, and ask someone there for directions. oddly, at any hour of the day there seems to be someone around who can point you (or your driver) in the right direction. anyways, i was standing with a group of drivers when a stranger walked up, and in clear english asked me if i needed help negotiating. he talked to them in kanneda (the local dialect) and decided that my 300 rupees was far, considering how far i was going. this ~35 minute trip was going to cost me just over $6. i had already brought the price down from the originally stated Rs 500.
i hate to negotiate, but after a few rounds you get used to it.. especially if you get a feel for how things really are and know what you’ve paid in the past.
the road to the left in this picture is actually the service road, a parallel road used to enter/exit, merge, and access the local businesses.
in the united states, this would be considered a two lane road. when traffic is heavy in bangalore, this road would carry vehicles 3, 4, or maybe 5 vehicles across depending on their width. the roads are ruled by large busses and trucks, then any space is filled in by cars, followed by auto-rickshaws, any remaining space filled by two-wheeled motorbikes. vehicles are like water that flow through the streets like a canal.
photo was shot on kodak portra 160vc +1 1/2, with a widelux f7. click for larger version.