DELHI AUTOs – love hate

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

A train to catch! Packing to finish! A cab to book!

My day was going in a huge rush and nothing seemed to be going as per schedule. Finally, I found myself standing, ready with my bags and all set to leave for the railway station when I received a message informing me of non-availability of cabs at the time and apology for the same.

So, I set out looking for an auto rickshaw, mentally preparing myself to haggle down to the lowest possible fare. Just then I found an auto rickshaw driver, Shyam (name changed), who offered to go by the meter, his only condition being that I would have to guide him through the route as he was new to Delhi. I happily hopped in!

On the way, I remembered instances when I have been new to a city and the auto rickshaw drivers have happily played the role of seasoned tour guides (with no extra charges). And so, out of gratitude, I began talking to young Shyam, showing him various landmarks and introducing him to the city with helpful trivia.

As time passed, I learnt how he used to pay 450 rupees as rental to his friend for getting to ride this auto rickshaw during night time and that he was required to fill in 200 rupees worth of gas in the vehicle every day. What he usually ended up earning for himself for this night long service was 100 to 200 rupees and he was happy.

Then, all of a sudden, our auto rickshaw made a choking noise and came to a standstill. Something had gone wrong with the battery. Seeing us struggle, a passing auto rickshaw driver stopped. I said to Shyam, “Look, he is coming to help you.” To this Shyam replied, “No madam, here no body helps anybody. This is Delhi.”

I was happy to see Shyam being proved wrong. The passerby had stopped to offer help. He had no hidden motive or agenda. I say this because he came, took a look at our auto rickshaw, gave it a push, instructed Shyam to turn on ignition and vrrooooooooommm. . . our auto rickshaw was back in action!

Soon, we reached my destination. I paid Shyam more than the meagre meter reading and said to him, “Five years down the line, when you become experienced and the traffic, weather and other conditions of Delhi start to frustrate you, I hope you will remember to stop to help the new guy and keep his faith alive in the goodness of Delhi Autowalas.”

His swift nod, big childish grin and overwhelmed eyes assured me that he would keep his promise.

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