Today morning on an atypical – a tad non-cluttered – drive to office owing to the auto strike I was reminded of an incident that happened 4-5 years back during another auto strike (that was for higher fares).
I was in second year and that time my mom and dad were in Hyderabad for a function. The venue was some obscure place in Secunderabad (I no longer remember the name), and on the day of the function the autos went to strike. After searching for an auto for a long time we caught one lurking in the alleys, and he agreed to take us to the venue albeit at one and a half times the actual rate. Reluctantly we agreed. He kept off all the main roads; we traversed through alleys of Hyderabad to reach our destination. I did not recognize any road or alley the auto had taken, and till date I am not sure what place I had been to and how I reached there.
After a long and boring function, it was time to go back. Again we had major problems finding an auto, but finally managed to do so. This auto-guy was verbose. He chattered non-stop, and expressed his displeasure at the ongoing strike, saying that it was a forced on them. He said that they were earning daily and spending the money daily with no savings to bank on in such times. That’s why he was taking a risk in driving an auto even on the day of the strike. He said most of the autos were hired and they had to pay a fixed amount to the owner irrespective of the amount they earned. If the strike was successful, and the fares were increased, the rent to the owner too would increase and so the take-home amount would be the same for the auto driver. According to the auto driver the union forced the strikes on them, and most of the drivers agreed to it only under force.
While passing through Osmania University, unluckily for the auto driver the union guys had blocked the road. The driver was literally dragged off by the strike perpetrators. That time I did not know where we were, and had no idea where to go and how? Dad talked to the auto union people, and luckily they agreed to drop us off to our destination. We asked the new driver what would happen to the guy who was driving the auto earlier, he nonchalantly replied, “use thoda maar kar chhod denge” (he would be beaten up a bit). I could only hope that that auto guy was fine.