The Auto or the Auto-Rickshaw had been my most reliable mode of transportation through-out my college days back home in Kolkata. I loved the Auto for it’s speed. I thought that they were versatile – maneuvering through the narrowest alleys and the thickest crowd. But most of all I loved the other thing that would come free with the ride – the cool hair-styling done by God’s natural Hair-blower!
You cannot underestimate an Auto. In Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) 2010, limited edition auto-rickshaws were unveiled on the opening day for auctioning! For charitable cause of course. In-fact these ordinary Autos were made ‘limited’ by some of the greatest names in contemporary Indian Art like Paresh Maity, Sanjay Bhattacharya, Satish Gupta, Yusuf Arakkal and many more.
Talking about this ultimate road crush of mine, I am taking an excerpt from my last post where I’ve romanticised the Kolkata Auto…
When one wants to hire an Auto, he/she screams the word – ‘AAAAEEEIIIIIII AUUUUTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO’ and with that powerful reference the Auto is empowered with a strange heavenly power and responsibility. An Auto screeches to a halt and honours a person by letting him/her in. At this point I must stress the need that you might have to be privileged enough to be selected by the Auto driver. If you are not selected then, Sorry! A huge apology, your ride in this particular Auto is not destined to be yours.
The other difference is that the Auto drivers in Kolkata are intrinsically different. They believe that they are the worthy avatars of Michael Schumacher. So, if you happen to be privileged enough to be inside a Kolkata Auto, imagine yourself to be in a Formula One Racing Car without the seat belts and without the safety of knowing that you are being driven in between the race tracks. You are in the open streets of Kolkata, jostling for some space amongst the speeding bikes, the nosy and the real noisy buses, the ‘oh-I-am-scared-please-don’t-scratch-me’ sedan cars along with the taxis, the hand-pulled rickshaws, the pedestrians… and then with gradual realisation you thank your stars. You thank for being in the Auto as you whirr past (actually way past) the traffic and reaching your destination sweat-free because of the open ‘tornado’ mode of ventilation that came free with your Auto package. Along with the cool hair-styling done by God’s natural Hair-blower!
Auto by any other name is an Auto, right?
I started the search for my long-lost lover, the Auto and I was amazed to find that Autos are practically everywhere. This celebrity three-wheeler has got different names, colour and even shapes in different countries. For example, in Cuba they are called Cocotaxis and they actually resemble coconuts!
Who says ‘what’s in a name?’ I say, everything. Everything is in a name. The destiny of an individual depends upon his/her name. Indeed, for the Auto too! In most of the developing nations, these Autos have been honoured with very loving names – and why wouldn’t they be? They are more efficient on the roads than even the latest Mercedes! Not so, in the developed nations – where the Autos are perhaps a novelty, not a need!
So what are the distinctive names? In Bangladesh they are commonly known as Autorickshaws but yes, you heard it right – they are also called Babytaxis! More recently they are being called by a modern name ‘CNG‘ as they use compressed natural gas as their fuel. They are called Tuk-tuks in Thailand, Cambodia and also in Srilanka; Autos in India and a very loud AUUUUTOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO in Kolkata; Bajaj in Indonesia; Tricycle/Traysikel in Philippines; Mototaxi/Moto in El Salvador; Chand gari (moon car) or qingqi (after the Chinese company who first introduced these to the market) in Pakistan; Cocotaxi in Cuba. Also Rick, Trishaw, Rickshaw, Autorick etc.
Many countries boast of their regional versions of Autos. You will actually find Autos in the UK, Netherlands, Italy and in many more. I am so thrilled. After-all, the Auto has been a serious lover of mine in the past – before I put my hands on a quintessential red Maruti 800 trying to zoom past an Auto amidst Kolkata traffic!
I have also gathered some amazing pictures of my hero. Clicking on the pictures will take you to an amazing journey to this unique vehicle from around the world. I owe my gratitude to the web for this. Enjoy!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
PS: All the images below have been sourced from the internet. Links have been acknowledged below.
Disclaimer: I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them please don’t use them. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.
Other articles you make like reading on Kolkata or Colombo:
Red Tuk-Tuks & Triumphant Rides in Colombo… Our Very Own Auto-Rickshaws In Kolkata
Getting Started, Rather Re-started – Kitugala, Srilanka
Heritance Tea Factory Hotel, Nuwara Eliya,
SrilankaLiving By The Water With Sunset As Prop – Colombo & the Indian Ocean
Living By The Water With Sunset As Prop – Kolkata & the Ganges
Terraces and Beyond – Kolkata
- Auto Rickshaw (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto_rickshaw)
- Antigua Guatemala | Taxi (Tuk-tuk) an auto rickshaw (socialmediasnews.wordpress.com)
- Bajaj in Indonesia