Business Sense and Culture Shock: Life Stranger than Fiction

“Have you ever been in a life outside the campus?

“Have you ever thought of commuting without your own vehicle or commuting on a shared public/private transport on a daily basis?” I guess, many of us will say YES to this. If your answer is “yes“, why don’t you share your experiences with aamjunta?. After July 2009, I too have accepted this as “the real color of life”, and started using shared transport systems.

Let me take my fellow aamjunta through three different scenes — first from an economic point of view, second from a social point of view and third from a cultural point of view.

The Business Sense of Autowalas of Bhubaneswar

Let me ask a simple question: 9 x 5 = ?. Surprised with this silly question? The answer given by Bhubaneswar autowalas is always more than 60 🙂 You might be wondering how? and why?  Their philosophy behind their answer is very simple. Let me explain.

If you board a shared auto from place A to place B, your autofare is Rs 9/-. The autowala can accommodate 5 people (at max, not 3 as seen in Mumbai!) in his auto. So, at max he gets Rs 45/- for his trip between A to B. Most of the times he hardly gets 5 people, and some time he picks up some fellow commuters and gets some thing in the range of Rs 3-9/-. On an average he earns Rs 40-45/- per trip. However, if you ask an autowala and reserve an auto from A to B, his charge starts from Rs 60/- and some time more. I don’t understand the philosophy behind their charge.  If an auto goes for a reserved trip, not only does he save time, but also he saves fuel, as the halts are not there — a reserved auto would usually move from one point to the other. Hence, charging more than Rs 45/ – Rs 50/- for the reserved trip is not at all justified. But, the autowalas never listen and many times lose fare, fuel as well as time – in waiting, in halts and in sharing. Who can educate them about their business and tourism sense? I tried many times with many autowalas but failed.

Is this a sense of business or greediness? Who is getting benefited? Both, the autowalas and the commuters are at the losing end.

Big-brother – From Mumbai to Bhubaneswar

I had heard of big-brothers in Mumbai, those who collect haftas, charge extortion money, kidnap people at gun point and sometime threaten and kill. Big city, big things, big-brothers 🙂 – a common phenomena. But, what about Bhubaneswar? It is not a big city! Moreover, people here are not that rich to be extorted or kidnapped at gun point. Police is very active here. Even then… “Big-brothers” –  hard core “muscle-men” are not extinct species here. They are very much present and active. However, I found one interesting fact about the big-brothers in Bhubaneswar. In many places, people use them, not that they use people. Let me share my experience with you.

One Sunday morning, I had to go to a friend’s place on a shared auto. Had to take an auto from Rasulgarh to Jayadev Vihar. Approached the autowalas for a shared trip. No one agreed to go, “jada aadmi nahini hai, bhada nahini milega, will not go”, was their simple answer. To that, when I asked for a reserved trip, they asked for Rs 120/- where they get Rs 30/- on a shared trip — four times the normal fare! Got frustrated with their attitude, went ahead and thought of trying for a line auto or some other auto. Tried to stop many autos, but no one stopped. Some even slowed down, but did not stop. Could not understand the reason. Why don’t they stop? Initially, I thought, there might be a traffic police standing nearby. But, that was not the case. A huge – dark – fatty young guy standing nearby, was waving his fingers at the autos which tried to stop. Seeing him there, no one dared to stop. Reason – he was hired by the local autowalas of that particular auto-stand, to protect their fare, such that other autowalas will not pickup any one from that stop 🙂 .   If some one stops by mistake and picks a passenger, he will be brutally punished and fined by the muscle man. Initially I started laughing, not on the muscle man, but on the attitude of the autowalas. Neither they are interested to provide services, nor they allow others. Moreover, they pay these muscle men from their own pockets. Who suffers? The commuters, they theme selves and the aamjunta. After 10 minutes of waiting and frustration, I went to the muscle man, and asked, “what kind of justice are you doing?, neither the autowalas whose fare you are protecting are willing to go, nor they allow others to take.” By that time 4/5 more people joined with me and we started shouting. Initially he started showing his dadagiri to us, but seeing a group and our anger, he left the place, and we managed to get a line auto. In the mean time, I approached the police and informed about the incident.

An Interesting Scene of a Real Drama – Request: “No Repetition Please”!

Last month, I was in my native place for Durga Puja. It was a real vacation for me after a long gap – after some 8/10 years. We had the usual Durga Puja celebrations and in addition we  have a cultural function on the last day of the vacation – on the Purnima (Full Moon) day. Kids, young school/college going girls and guys and even senior people participate in that function. We always arrange in our village  small skits,  competitions, cultural shows, quiz  and many more events to celebrate the evening.  People from many other villages also participate in the function. Like every year, this year also we had that function. The evening and the events were going smoothly.  I was asked to be a part of the organizing team, however I deliberately did not participate in  organizing the event. The reason – “Drink “- every one in the organizing team were drunk, literally not on their feet, drunk so badly that they were not even able to speak coherently. They had beer, whisky, vodka etc… as a part of the “organizational arrangement”. Initially I thought of raising a protest, but whom to say? No one was in a mood to listen, and every body was drinking. Just kept silent and was keeping an eye on the event.

More than 500 people (of which 60% are kids) were attending the event. Suddenly some one from the organizing team entered the dais and started shouting on the microphone. Shouting in-fact is not the appropriate word, he was abusing the anchor with all kinds of vulgar words. To that, the anchor (who was drunk too) started reacting – retaliating with equally vulgar words. In a fraction of a second, the dais became a battleground, the cultural evening became a farce and a travesty of what people name as “culture”. Audience watching the show tried to pacify the matter, but in vain. The other organizers too tried their best (with their so called wisdom words) to pacify this. Nothing happened, no one stopped and we all were watching helplessly. Finally they were taken away forcefully by the guests. Later, the chief guest, who happens to be a retired head master and a seasoned artist rose to the occasion and gave his gandhigiri speech which had the following content: “Like many good and bad scenes of a drama, this (abusing scene) incident is a real scene of a real drama. However, the taste of this scene is bad. And there is a public demand, “no repetition please”.”

Not only that, he took two Rs 50/- notes from his pocket and awarded the two battling organizers for their scene – for their action, their show in the drama.

I still could not understand what kind of cultural function we had? What will the kids learn from this? Drinking and Shouting with vulgar words?. Is this the batton we are passing to our future generation? Chalta haiAamjunta think of it…

2 Responses

  1. I think that is the reason many people in Orissa are Poor. Good that some people have realized this. All the best. Happy Diwali to aamjunta 🙂

  2. The last point you mentioned is really amazing. Gandhigiri in true sense. Gandhi is no more, but Gandhigiri is back. With Obama as Noble prize winners lets hope for more Gandhigiri 🙂

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