Vantage point

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Importance of One Rupee

The professionalism that pervades Mumbai is best illustrated by a one rupee coin in my pocket. I got the one rupee coin back from the rickshaw-wallah this morning, when I gave him a 20-rupee note to pay for a 19-rupee fare. In fact even before I gave him the money, he had reached in his pocket and taken the coin out.....preemptively.

The event was not a rare one, at least in Mumbai. This happens every time I am in a rickshaw in the city. I always get the loose change back. But I noticed it because of the business partner I talked about in the earlier post. While praising Bombay, he said "Yaar, not only do the rickshaws here run strictly by the metere, day or night, they also return 1 or 2 rupees! You will never see this in Delhi!"

Why just Delhi? You won't see this in Bangalore, and you will find this very rarely in Pune. In these cities the rickshaw-wallah will either round off the fare while telling it to you, like in Pune. Or he will say "Kya saab, rehne do na ek-do rupaya" like in Bangalore. Or he will negotiate a round figure as the fare, like in Delhi.

The fact that the one-rupee-being returned is a phenomenon only outsiders in Mumbai notice shows how professional this city's way of life is. In fact Mumbaikars reading this will be puzzled why I am making a big deal of of something so small.

The fare was 19 bucks right? You have to get one rupee back. And you got it.


Just thought of writing a short note about sample reactions from rickshaw wallahs in all the metros, and Chennai and Kolkatta ;).

Suppose you are travelling in an auto rickshaw. The fare is 49 rupees. You give the driver 50 rupees expecting one rupee back. Here is how rickshaw drivers in different metros would react.

Mumbai - He will give you one rupee back.

Delhi - "Oye b******d, ek rupiya mangta hai? Pata hai, meri pahunch Manmohan Singh tak hai". He will then get into a fist fight with you.

Bangalore - "Sorry saar, as you are a non-Kannada, I can't give you one rupee back for at least six weeks after you have paid me."

Chennai - "nee annay tamiz le kelle"(you must ask me in tamil)

Kolkatta - "THE BOURGEOISE CANT BEAR TO SEE EVEN A RUPEE IN THE HANDS OF THE PROLETARIAT!!!".... after that the Kolkatta Rickshaw Drivers Union would go on an undefinite strike to protest this capitalist gesture. The CPI and the CPM, expressing solidarity with the rickshaw drivers would call for Kolkatta Bandh. Trinamool Congress workers defying the bandh would clash with the commie cadre, resulting in a dozen deaths.