Please read PART 1- before reading this post. Will help you understand better…Thanks.
Earlier, in my quest for a culturally significant Chennai Auto rickshaw, I encountered Auto drivers Guna and Kabali whom I roped in as Designers for this special project.
Initially, Design happened on the go- inside either Guna or Kabali’s Auto as they blazed around the city in the scorching heat looking for customers. But that arrangement did not last long. It was Guna who finally suggested that we all meet after work in the evenings. They also decided unanimously that if their brains were to be put to such gruesome use, they couldn’t do it without a certain stimulant we in Chennai so famously call ‘Sarakku’. Hence, the location for meeting up was shifted to the TASMAC Wine Shop bar in Velachery!
Design flowed over McDowell’s Whisky, Mixture Pouches, Pickle Sachets and Water Packets for the next four weeks. The results were truly satisfying even though the hangovers (thanks to every session ending with a deadly cocktail of Whisky and Bullet beer!) were very difficult to put up with.
Below, I have shared some of the lively discussions, Concept Ideas and Sketches that our designers shared with me in the wine shop. Enjoy them!
Guna gets Senti while Kabali’s Ass hurts:
During the first session, after gulping down a 90 cutting, Guna began emphatically ‘My auto is my life’ he struggled to say without slurring ‘I don’t want to change anything in it’
‘I want a better seat’ said Kabali breaking the impasse.
‘Ok and why is that?’ I queried, making a note.
‘My ass hurts sitting in it all day’ he moaned, holding his rear.
‘Yes, many of my friends suffer from ‘files’ ’ said Guna.
‘You mean Piles?’ I interjected.
‘No, No- Files’ he stressed.
Moving on, I asked Kabali what kind of seats he wants?
‘I want Rajinikanth’s seat in the movie Baasha!’ said Guna before starting to sing a few verses of a famous song from that movie as Kabali joined up for the chorus.
And thus, the Auto Seat was decided.
Bullets and Buggers:
When I continuously pestered the duo, asking them what they wanted their Auto to look like, it was Guna who finally broke the silence:
‘I want it to look like a bullet’ said Guna with conviction.
‘Bullet?’ I asked, puzzled.
‘Why not?’ he snarled ‘Do you have any idea how fast we go in these Autos?’
‘Yeah, I have seen how fast some of you buggers drive’ I replied.
‘Buggers’na ?’ asked Guna as he sketched out something that resembled a peanut.
‘Never mind’ I sighed as I drew a bullet.
Picasso’s of Panagal Park:
It took me more than two weeks and five sessions to get them to sketch things on paper. Here are a few sample sketches (while they were still sober) trying to explain various features and aspects of their design.
Punctured Tyres and Pickle Packets:
I hate my tyres being punctured’ Kabali sighed, nibbling on a piece of ‘Podimas’ one day.
‘Tubeless tyres’, I mumbled, jotting it down in my book.
‘Tubeless’ah?’ asked Guna.
‘Yeah, you don’t have to worry about filling air much’ I smiled
‘Awesome!’ he yelled and turned around to Kabali ‘If we ever get such tyres I shall buy you lots of mixture packets with the money I save off punctures’
‘Until then?’ asked Kabali.
‘Get me a Pickle packet now’ said Guna, turning away abruptly.
The Alloy and the Arrogant Mercedes:
‘I want wheels like a Mercedes Benz’ ordered Guna ‘Those Bastards snicker at us on the road as we drive side by side’
‘You mean you want Alloy wheels?’ I asked
‘I don’t know what it’s called but it better make the people inside the Mercedes to admire my wheels and roll down their windows so fast that you’d think somebody farted inside and they were gasping for fresh air.’
On many occasions, I was amazed at the level of Creativity and Spontaneity that the two of them were able to bring to the ‘table’. Sometimes they were brilliant, sometimes downright stupid but always amusing. Guna and Kabali came up with their most Creative Ideas only after the alcohol really hit their brain. Design sans prohibition, flowed without inhibition, as you shall see:
Auto Meter- Govinda.. .Goooovinda!
What did our designers think about the Auto Meter? I asked them one day. I wish I hadn’t:
‘PHEEEEEW!!’ Guna spit out a piece of chicken he had been chewing for some time.
‘What is this?’ he asked me pointing to the piece that fell on the table.
‘Chicken?’ I ventured a guess.
‘No! That is the Auto meter’ he thundered, leaving even Kabali puzzled.
‘What the auto meter gives us is useless. All the juice is taken by the government and the customers. We only end up with waste’ he said poking at the piece with his cigarette.
‘So no meter’s in the autos’ I asked.
‘No. We should have a ‘Donation box’ in place of the meter where people can drop money to help ‘Poor’ Auto drivers who still use their meters’ said Kabali, laughing so hard till the whisky came out of his nose.
Number plates- Something Fancy.
‘Every auto should have fancy number plate’ declared Guna. ‘You know, with our birth dates or that of our leaders’
‘Who is your favourite leader by the way?’ I asked Guna
He thought long and hard before replying- ‘Bill Gates’ he said finally.
‘Do you know his birth date?’I asked
‘I don’t even know when he died’ chuckled Guna
‘Isnt he still alive?!’ asked Kabali, suddenly showing interest.
‘M#^&@^%#. Shut up!’ Guna snarled at Kabali. I do not want to tell you the exact expletive he used but it has pretty much everything to do with hair.
Check out a sample of some of their not so Sober sketches!
The new ‘All in All Azhaguraja’ Engine:
The Design team was unanimous in one aspect of Design- the Engine. It had to be an Eco (economically) friendly engine that ran on anything from CNG gas to petrol, Diesel or Krishnoil (Kerosene in layman’s terms). The goal was simple- whatever the auto driver could afford to get his hands on, the Auto shall run on it.
Open roofs and Sex Maniacs:
‘I love driving without the Top cover sometimes’ lamented Guna.
‘Like Bashir’s Auto?’ asked Kabali.
‘Hey, what happened to Bashir by the way? asked Guna.
‘Lost the Auto. Moved back to his village. Lives with his parents now’ sighed Kabali
‘All because of his love for that wretched aunty! No Self Control, that Sex maniac!’ mumbled Guna as he let another ninety disappear down his throat.
‘Guys, the Top Cover?’ I reminded them.
‘Cant the top cover be retractable?’ queried Guna
‘Of course, why not?’ I replied
‘Maybe’ Guna thought hard ‘We should use the roof as a medium to display political affiliations of the drivers?’ he reasoned
‘Why would you want to do that?’ I asked, puzzled
‘That way, I can boldly flaunt the flag whenever I want and cycle Gap’ly retract the covers anytime It would get me into trouble’ he snickered.
And just like that, one fine day I realized I couldn’t take it anymore! The Alcohol I meant. I had also exhausted all aspects of Design that needed Guna and Kabali’s Inputs. I took back their golden Ideas and developed the approved concept which went through much Iteration before finally being accepted by the two of them and their buddies. Behold your eyes and take a look at the Real Chennai Auto!
Am sure you’ve got a fair idea of what the Auto is going to look like as I take leave from Part- 2 and hope to meet you in Part-3 with the final 3D-Model and Digital Renders of the Real Chennai Auto!
What can you expect in PART-3? Very few words and lots of pictures. Happy?!