The other side of the auto drivers
Let me confess first that this actually began as yet another attack on the auto drivers, their methods, their rude ways etc. But then I realized that there is so little written about the positives of the auto drivers of Bangalore that it does seem to feel that every one out there is evil. There are a few guys out there who are generally nice & do some good deeds if not always at least once in a while. And there have also been times when we have not looked at them as aliens from the outer world & been nice as well. Some instances:
One of the earliest good memories I have of auto drivers is of the ‘auto man’ in whose auto I used to travel to school. It was the school auto, the ones that are still around & used for ferrying kids to school & back home. On one occasion this ‘auto man’, found a wallet left behind by some foreigners. He opened it & saw that it contained their passports & some money. Without much thought, he walked up to the police station & deposited the wallet with them. And later found out from the cops that the foreigners had lodged a complaint & as a result found the wallet.
When there is the business of distribution of any invitation cards like for a wedding or a house warming ceremony, till sometime back couples/people entrusted with the distribution would flag down an auto, tell the driver that they have to go around to so many places around Bangalore distributing cards. And the auto drivers would agree bearing in mind that this will involve a lot of waiting time for them. The couple would share with the auto driver the coffee or tea or snacks that are served to them at the house of the invitees. Sometimes they would even do lunch together at a hotel if the card distribution had to extend for some hours post lunch. I thought this practice had come down over the years but was pleasantly surprised when a family got off an auto & gave us the invite for a wedding. Yes the snacks were shared with the auto driver as well.
It is a horrible experience if one is involved in an accident with an auto. The thought itself is scary. I can visualize other auto drivers gathering around & the choicest of words in Kannada thrown about. And if you had a part in the accident then it is indeed very difficult to get out of the mess. This is exactly what happened with a friend. And those were not normal times. It was the day Dr. Rajkumar got kidnapped. The accident was such that the auto fell to its side. And guess where the accident happened, in the vicinity of the Sadashivnagar area. Needless to say my friend panicked. The city was any way tense that day, almost immediately a crowd gathered. Everyone there seemed to support only the auto driver. But surprise surprise the auto driver turned out to be a gem of a person. First he calmed down the crowd, then sent them away & finally got into a cultured discussion with my friend on how to settle the expenses. Not just that he also ended up giving a good amount of time (days) for my friend to pay up.
Some months back a person stepped into the office. As soon as he saw me he said, “Namaskara”. I hesitatingly responded. I didn’t recognize him. He seemed to understand that and asked me in kannada if I didn’t recognize him. I hesitated again. Just then my brother passed by & identified him immediately. This person was the auto driver, who had rushed dad to the hospital when dad had a stroke in his auto. Sadly his efforts were in vain. The incident had happened months earlier and the driver had come down to pay us a courtesy visit.
I am sure a lot of us have such instances involving the auto drivers. It will be nice to look back at those instances. Share some of them here if you can.