Just when I thought I had heard enough about the (in)famous & at times over-exaggerated, auto-menace in India, there comes an experience, that beats all of it and even makes those "Non meter/Meter par extra charging/attitude throwing " auto-wallahs look like saints.
Today morning as I got out from the Hyderabad railway station after my Bangalore trip, immediately an auto-guy approached me, and on being asked if he'd go by meter, he said " 20 rs extra' to which I agreed only too willingly, glad to be not paying a 'fixed amount' which was 2 even 3 times what the meter fare would be and hopped in.
At the end of this trip, the meter clocked up to 100Rs to my house, which is 20 rs over & above what the normal fare is ( I know by heart now 'cause I've been doing the Hyd-Blr-Hyd trips for over a year now!) But today I just happened to have a 100 on me! Not a rupee less, not a paisa more!
Now the auto-guy wouldn't budge & kept asking ( quite justifiably so) for the pre-decided 20 rs extra. He suggested I go upstairs & get the money from someone in the house to which I told him there would be noone in my house at that point; Then he asked if he wanted me to call HIM upstairs & help me look for the money. My mind not quite raising the red flag yet, and actually feeling bad about not having the promised 20 rs extra on me, I continued to grope around in my bag hoping to find some stray change.
Watching me rather oddly, he said in Hindi "You are alone in the house....I can come up & do anything for you"....Still not picking up the innuendo, I retorted, "I have to pay you 20 more, why would YOU want to do anything for me". He then smirked & said something that creeped me out to the bone "Kuch bhi...like massage or something..." and just as I was pulling my luggage out of the backseat, he grabbed my chest and said '"Sab dikh raha hai...Mujhe dabaane do 20 rs ke badle mein! Or kuch bhi karwana hai toh" and some other words that are too embarrassing to be enunciated.
I was shocked,disgusted & creeped out beyond words. Before I could kick him in the balls to the point of emasculating him, he sped off. I didn't have the time( or maybe I was too stunned to act) to note down the auto number to report him for his attempted molest & the brief trauma that this morning caused my mind and my body. That brief touch of his felt dirty, almost like it punctured a part of my soul. I cant even begin to imagine what rape victims go through.
What transpired today was not only painfully disgusting, embarrassing & demeaning to me as a person & a woman, but could happen again to me or any other girl travelling alone in an auto or anywhere else in this country.
So here's a heads-up to everyone, especially girls to be careful. Forget paying a few extra rupees to them, what one should be really worried about is whether those innocent looking auto-drivers might be evil little rapists in disguise, mentally undressing you from the rare view mirror in the auto & planning to cost you a lot more than your money....
* placing an order for a bottle of pepper spray, while I secretly hope for more guts & wishing on my limbs to act faster, in future *