The unique perfidy of Chennai auto drivers was brought back to me forcefully by two incidents during my recent travels. In Pune I took an auto rickshaw back from Sancheti hospital. At the destination, the driver kept staring at his meter card (in Pune the meter reading needs to be converted to money units) and after some hesitation asked me how much I had paid on the way out. I told him it was Rs. 24 whereupon he said his meter was showing Rs 45 which he noticed was way too high for this distance. Of course in one place he had had to take a detour from the way in because of a one-way street, so we agreed to Rs. 30 and he was very happy.
In Ahmedabad, again recently, I was taking an auto rickshaw to the Physical Research Laboratory and wasn't sure of the way. The driver told me he would prefer if I gave directions, though he could find his way by asking people. However, in that case there was the danger that he wouldn't be taking the shortest route and I would end up paying more than the standard amount. Finally he did find his way and the fare was approximately what it would have been anyway via the shortest route.
In the two decades or so I have been in Chennai, I have encountered exactly two honest auto drivers (yes, two) by which I mean they agreed to go by the meter. This is of course no longer possible since meters have not been calibrated in a long while and most of them don't work anyway. A distance of about a kilometer typically costs anything between Rs. 25-30 which must surely count among the most expensive for this mode of transport. In a gesture of abject helplessness, the police here have now decided that auto rickshaw drivers who recalibrate their meters and use them honestly will carry a red (or was it green) label to signify their existence, in the fond hope that it will shame the others into following suit. How 'fond' can hope be?