The piece is dedicated to all Mumbaikars who travel by auto rickshaw frequently and who, I am sure, will agree that just like you judge a book by its cover, so can you judge your auto ride by a quick analysis of the auto driver.
Going by the looks, there are the pleasant looking 'sants', driver who are calm, have done their daily prayer, you can see the marks on the forehead or the pictures on the wind screen. Most probably your ride is going to be a quite peaceful ride.
The next are the 'Munna bhais' they look really scary and one has to keep looking out to make a note of landmarks just in case the auto turns into an unknown alley. During the ride you can hear your heartbeat and sometimes feel the sweat as the driver curses every other vehicle which obstructs its way and God forbid if you are stuck in a traffic jam, you will have the guy walk in and out of the auto, fretting and cursing the traffic, weather, time and what you have.
Then there are the very stern looking 'CEO' types, who are out to take you for a ride, they keep giving you options to various routes in order to assess your knowledge of your destination and if you fumble you are sure to end up taking the longest route possible to your destination.
On some days you end in an auto with the 'spitters'- the driver seems to have a secret reserve of Saliva in his body, chomping away on paan. he'll definitely leave you with a feeling of nausea at the trail of spit on the road which Hansel and Gretel could follow to reach you.
Then there are the 'sitting on cactus' types, fidgety ones, always shifting on their seats, looking back, I guess to ensure you are still on the back seat. They'll look sideways forever, you would wonder when your auto will bang into the vehicle in front. Adding to this are the 'auto-pilots', the driver who seem to be flying airplanes, the speed is so much you wonder where your medical insurance is stacked away at home and you keep a finger on the speed dial just in case...
And of course, we cannot forget the contributions of the cribbing auto wala who whines away to glory to go that extra meter.