(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)
Here’s a phrase that you need to learn if you’re new to New Delhi. Everyone knows it and anyone can teach you: “Meter kyon nahi chalta hai?” (“Why doesn’t the meter work?”) This will become an elementary part of your conversation with autowallahs, the drivers of the green-and-yellow three-wheelers that ferry people around the region.
Never tell them that you’re new to this part or that part of the city; you’re asking to be gouged on price. Look at the meter and say the phrase that I just taught you. Say it even if the meter is working. That means it’s time to negotiate. Be confident and you will only pay a ridiculous amount of extra money, rather than an insane amount. And if they do use the meter, be prepared for them to take you the long way around to your destination.
“If I can afford to spend 10 minutes of my day on autowallahs, I insist on travelling by the meter,” said Arushi Sen, 25. “However, if I am in a rush, then I just add five to 10 rupees to the meter fare. In case it’s raining or if it’s peak traffic hour, then I make it 20 rupees more.”
Juliane Seumel of Germany, who has spent several months in New Delhi as a university student, said, “I don’t even bother to ask for the meter most of the time.”