The autorickshaw already has an ambassador, a certain entrepreneurial Mr. Samson. As I don’t even know how to ride a bicycle, it would be quite dastardly of me to angle for this title.
But I can’t help but feel like I’m halfway there. Today, by sheer synchronicity, a short story of mine about an auto driver as well as two poetry videos (shot with me in either an auto- or a cycle- rickshaw) will be posted online. In the next few weeks, another story about auto drivers will also be published.
So what is my deal with autos, anyway? My love-hate relationship with Chennai is no secret. But my feelings about the autorickshaw are straightforward. They thrill me. I love that money-driven, masculine world which I get to glimpse into only as “Madam”. I love the vehicle itself, adorably shaped and irresistibly Pondicherry ochre. I love chatting with the drivers, who are as complex and varied as any set of human beings, and neither stupid nor soulless. To me, the auto is the single dynamic idiosyncrasy of this city — all the rest are just stereotypes.
Next week will be three years since I moved back to Chennai. I’ve already had a big cry or two about this. No, it’s not a long time/ Yes, it is a long time. Complicated or not, I can think of no more apt celebration than all this auto-centred work. I’ll post it as it comes. I hope you’ll enjoy it.