Friday, April 17, 2009

Suvendu Roy of Titan Industries shares his inspirational encounter with a rickshaw driver in Mumbai

Last Sunday, my wife, kid and I had to travel to Andheri from Bandra. When I waved at a passing auto rickshaw, little did I expect that this ride would be any different.

As we set off, my eyes fell on a few magazines (kept in an aircraft style pouch) behind the driver's back rest. I looked in front and there was a small TV. The driver had put on the Doordarshan channel. My wife and I looked at each other with disbelief and amusement. In front of me was a small first-aid box with cotton, dettol and some medicines. This was enough for me to realise that I was in a special vehicle. Then I looked around again, and discovered more -there was a radio, fire extinguisher, wall clock, calendar, and pictures and symbols of all faiths - from Islam and Christianity to Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. There were also pictures of the heroes of 26/11- Kamte, Salaskar, Karkare and Unnikrishnan. I realised that not only my vehicle, but also my driver was special.

I started chatting with him and the initial sense of ridicule and disbelief gradually diminished. I gathered that he had been driving an auto rickshaw for the past 8-9 years; he had lost his job when his employer's plastic company was shut down. He had two school-going children, and he drove from 8 in the morning till 10 at night. No break unless he was unwell. "Sahab, ghar mein baith ke TV dekh kar kya faida? Do paisa income karega toh future mein kaam aayega." (Sir, what's the use of simply sitting at home and watching TV? If I earn some income, then it will be useful in the future.)

We realised that we had come across a man who represents Mumbai - the spirit of work, the spirit of travel and the spirit of excelling in life. I asked him whether he does anything else as I figured that he did not have too much spare time. He said that he goes to an old age home for women in Andheri once a week or whenever he has some extra income, where he donates tooth brushes, toothpastes, soap, hair oil, and other items of daily use. He pointed out to a painted message below the meter that read: "25 per cent discount on metered fare for the handicapped. Free rides for blind passengers up to Rs50". He also said that his auto was mentioned on Radio Mirchi twice by the station RJs. The Marathi press in Mumbai know about him and have written a few pieces on him and his vehicle.

My wife and I were struck with awe. The man was a HERO! A hero who deserves all our respect. I know that my son, once he grows up, will realise that we have met a genuine hero. He has put questions to me such as why should we help other people? I will try to keep this incident alive in his memory.

Our journey came to an end; 45 minutes of a lesson in humility, selflessness and of a hero-worshipping Mumbai - my temporary home. We disembarked, and all I could do was to pay him a tip that would hardly cover a free ride for a blind man.

I hope, one day, you too have a chance to meet Mr Sandeep Bachhe in his auto rickshaw - MH-02-Z-8508.

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4 comments:

Singing Professor of Sydney. Australia; www.mp3.com.au/Bandythesingingprofessor/ said...

It is a great story to read.

Life is for action.

The Auto-man is an Ideal professional example;

As is Suvendu Roy's appreciation.

Best Regards - Singing professor of Sydney, Australia

www.mp3.com.au/Bandythesingingprofessor/

Innocent Warrior said...

Thank you very much for visiting my blog.

Vivek Deshmukh said...

This is a splendid example of excelling in customer service. No one expected such facilites to be provided in a transport which is know for cheating its own customers. I hope that we change our typical views on rickshawallahs by looking at this example and give them a chance to change for good. Thank you Abhijeet for sharing this example with us.

I share an experience on rickshawallahs on http://www.whatindiawants.com/

Innocent Warrior said...

Thanks Vivek for visiting my blog and sharing your valuable thougts.