"Borabanda Borabanda Motinagaraaa!"
I hear him shouting as I head over there. Like every night, it’s a mess.
There are at least five 'share' autos in a virtual free for all on a couple of routes, which leave from the Yousufguda Checkpost. The whole place bustles with activity just like any other lower middle class marketplace. Loads of fruitsellers around with their wares. A wine shop attracts its own loyal clientele. There's a pharmacist, a small restaurant, hardware shop, an electrical appliance store and a general store around this circle. Cars, bikes, autos, people hurrying at 9.30 PM to get home to their families.
Like I said, it’s a mess.
We make eye contact still 20 ft away and he shouts at me almost as if he knows me,
"Come on Come on Motinagar Borabandaaa!!!"
I am completely non-commital as I make quick survey and find all the autos on my route empty except for his where a guy was sitting in. But then he could be a dummy. I am tired though so I just get in.
He immediately gets a second wind and shouts louder than ever before,
"Borabanda Borabanda Motinagaraaa!"
Another guy gets in. And I was right. The first 'passenger' gets out and starts shouting too,
"Motinagar Motinagar Borabanda!!!"
If you haven’t figured it out as yet, this is how it works. Since there is no order to how the autos leave, it’s a perfect open market. So the auto which gets filled first (it takes 5) leaves. So all these guys shout their throats out every night trying to leave ahead of the rest.
Ok, so now that leaves people like me with the difficult decision to make every night to optimize our selection every night so that the auto in which I get in leaves early. The result is a curious situation that all travelers like me ideally want to be the fifth person in an auto and never the first because in the latter case you have minimum control over when your vehicle might leave. There's a good chance that you might feel pretty stupid on a few nights as you see other autos come and go. One can always jump out of the auto and join another one but somehow that almost never happens. Its almost like once you are in, you are part of a team.
Now in a perfect economic world, nobody will go anywhere but thankfully there are always some lemons around. And there are dummies.
Some of the autowallahs have a dummy passenger sitting in the auto, which gives him a small competitive advantage over the others and acts as an incentive to passengers to get in. When a couple of 'real' passengers troop in, the dummy gets up and assumes his real role of a conductor of the auto. Though the two or three passengers now realise that they have been had, there's nothing much they can do about it. And you can never really identify a dummy for sure.
"Borabanda?" A muslim couple ask my autowallah. The wife's in a burkha.
"Sir, please come up front" he requests me.
The auto can seat three at the back and four at the front (dont ask me how) including the driver and the 'dummy'. Ladies obviously are never expected to squeeze up front so I get down and sit next to the driver, half of my left bum hanging in the air.
We need one more. And then the bus comes along.
The bus is another constraint. People quit autos and get into the crowded buses. The bus ticket costs a buck less. Its always too crowded for me but the Muslim couple don’t think so and they leave.
I look at my driver and wait for the choicest profanities to flow out which am sure are at the tip of his tongue but he just sighs and says,
"Look at them scoot."
The bus leaves. We are back to two. He gets up and starts off again,
"Borabanda Borabanda Motinagar Motinagaraaaa!!"
I get up and climb again into the back seat.