Black Beauties

  • Alka Gurha
  • India
  • Nov 11, 2011
HANGING ON FOR DEAR LIFE: Commuters cram into a shared auto

In search of literary pursuit, if you ever wanted to grasp the tenets of social science, human psychology, and disaster management—without actually going to college—all you need is a ride on one of Gurgaon’s blazing black beauties. The shared auto-rickshaw is a gift from Italy. At the end of World War II—when most Italians lacked a mode of transport— Enrico Piaggio came up with the idea of a three wheeler; that is now the most economical means of public transportation in Gurgaon.

To start with, flagging a shared auto on the road is an art in itself. One has to shed all inhibitions, disregard the traffic mavens, and stand in the middle of the road—for effective signalling. Patience, perseverance and providence—all help in halting an auto, that promises to take you to the desired destination.

The infernal agony of finding space in the already overloaded smoke-spewing monster, reminds you of the erstwhile ‘Fevicol’ advertisement. While the black beauty is an awesome metaphor for the popular adage, “Thoda adjust karo,” it is also an eclectic conglomeration of Indian diversity. A student from the north-east, a labourer from the east, a techie from the south, and a trader from the west—all coexist in harmony, revelling in this marvel of the Millennium City. 

The innards of the shared auto are a place to savour an assortment of aromas. Once settled, there is no reason to sniff disparagingly, as the black beauty ferries flatulent jerks, tipsy travelers, decrepit dudes and stinking souls—with equal felicity. 

There is a clear gender bias. The ride can be a blessing for the male; with potholes providing despicable adrenalin surge. With the predator and the prey snugly crammed, the black beauty expedition is an inescapable nemesis for women. 

Even though the antiquated black beauties are synonymous with agony, they are the preferred mode of transport; for the very reason that they are economical. Perhaps the residents with deep pockets can afford to sneer at them. But, in the absence of an effective bus service, the much lampooned and condemned beauties are a lifeline for the daily commuters in Gurgaon. 


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