Functional meters in Chennai are like mythical creatures. And when we pay according to one it feels like we are in Narnia.

Determined to pay the right amount we walk from one auto to another enquiring about their meters. A few auto drivers look disgusted at the mention of the M-word and send us away dismissively. Others say, “Meter inno readya illai100 roobai thariya ? That’s definitely excessive for the distance from Ampa Mall to the Nungambakkam Tennis Stadium.

Finally we discover a driver who agrees to charge us by the rate card. He animatedly waves it like a Japanese fan in our faces as we whizz off in his auto, suffused in incense. But we aren’t complaining. And as the gauge flickers to life, we clap in glee with a sense of achievement and click numerous pictures of the prima donna…that is the meter.

The best part is when we pull out our wallets and pay him two twenty rupee notes (Rs. 40 for 3.9 km) instead of having to part with a crisp note of hundred. As for our wallet, it squeals “Ka-ching!”