Please don't be offended, Bangalore is one place I just cannot stand. I hate going to Bangalore, though I have to go there at least once in a month because my job demands it. No, I don't hate Bangalore because I hate the hustle and bustle of the city and I am a romantic at heart. I prefer to live in a city at any given point of time and I have no romantic notions what so ever attached to where I live. I can eat anywhere, sleep anywhere!
Then, why do I hate going to Bangalore? I hate going to Bangalore for only one reason.That one reason is the city's auto rickshaw or three-wheeler (tuk-tuk,trishaw, auto, rick, autorick or rickshaw in popular parlance1) Drivers. Yes, I hate going to the City of Bangalore because of it's rick drivers. They give me the feeling that they are the most unreasonable lot to tread the face of the earth!
I often try and compare the Bangalore Rick Drivers to the Mangalore Rick Drivers. I am always pleased with the later than the former. Rick Drivers of Bangalore can simply rob you in daylight if they sense that you are new to the place. They will either take you round and round the City before they reach you where you are supposed to reach or they will charge you double of what it actually costs to reach where you want to reach. So the first question they ask you when you tell them where you want to go is usually going to be about a landmark only the people who live in that City are familiar with. If you fail that test of identifying the landmark as accurately as the fellow expects you to, be sure that you will be taken for a ride!
I used to always end up hating Bangalore more when ever I went there, officially or unofficially. My Bangalore Dekho Rick Ride is a very popular joke among my colleagues in Bangalore. My Head Quarters was in Indiranagar till a couple of weeks ago and God alone, if he is up there, knows the kind of mess I used to end up because of Bangalore Rick Drivers every time I visited HQ. I was just getting familiar with the place and out of the blue, as though fate would want me live with an eternal hatred for Bangalore, my HQ is relocated to a place in Bangalore I haven't even heard of. With that, I am sure, my Bangalore Dekho Rick Rides are back to square on again.
When the same me is in Mangalore and catch a Rick to reach somewhere, I always feel I should touch the feet of the driver and pray. They, Mangalore Rick Drivers, are such saints, you know. They always run on meter, even if you are not from Mangalore. They never charge you more than what you read on meter. They charge you one and a half or double the fee only if you are travelling late night. They will never take you round and round the City. I always end up thinking that we should do a Rick Driver Exchange Programme between Mangalore and Bangalore.
No, I am not kidding. I think it is high time the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike guys did something about this. Bangalore is one place in India to where all the world come. It is their first impression of the City which decides how they behave there. And Rick Drivers are one group of people who directly deal with most of us who come to Bangalore and how we treat Bangalore depends on how they treat us. They should either stop granting new permits [I don't know if that is done] so that City does not overflow with Ricks and the Drivers don't behave like a wild pack of hounds who are forced to share a tiny piece of meat, if you know what I mean. Or they should teach their Drivers that they have some civic responsibility.
I am sure most of you have heard of Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Temple, and been there. It is a Shaiva Temple, manged by a Jain Royal Family, two and a half hours away from Mangalore. I had the privilege of associating with the Temple Management for an assignment when I was working with the HR Department of one of their Colleges. The assignment was to train the rick drivers of Dharmasthala on civic sense and responsibility.
What was the logic behind training the rick drivers? Thousands of people visit the temple in a year. And their usual mode of transport once they reach Dharmasthala is provided by these rick drivers. The Temple Management rightly understood that the people who visit the place carry their first impressions back to where they came from and these impressions are going to be created by people at the grassroots who directly deal with the pilgrims, like let us say rick drivers.They saw one way out to save the Temple Town from badly behaving [Not as bad as Bangalore, mind you!] drivers and street vendors - train them about how to behave with people!
So I am not joking when I say Bangalore Mahanagara Palike should train their rick drivers on Civic Sense and Responsibility. Or people like me will have to live hating the thought of going to Bangalore!