Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rendezvous with an Auto Rickshaw Driver

It has been 2 long months since I last posted on my blog. Well... The last month was such a hectic one that I didn’t get time to write. It just passed by and I remained merely a spectator to all the incidences... I am happy that it’s over now... I celebrated my birthday with full joy and happiness even though I knew, I am getting one year older. J

On a positive note, our 1 year long project went live successfully and without any major hiccups. We have worked so hard on it and it is reflecting. On a slightly different side, we have two long months of PIS (Post Implementation Support). Anyone and everyone in the IT industry would know that PIS is the most hated part of a project life cycle. Luckily, I have planned my 2 weeks of pending leaves during this period and will be escaping these dark times for 2 weeks (not to mention, I will switch my phone off too.)

Now, coming to the point why I was so eager to get some time to write this post. It all started on the eve of 4th Nov, my birthday. Every year on this day, as per my Mom’s suggestion and my conscience' forced will, I visit temple. Just to pray to God for a better future and thank Him for all He has given me in the years passed by. I had my project release the next day and It was just the perfect time to pay a visit to The Almighty. I finished my work early in office (or should I say, I was in no mood to work on that day). My colleagues had organized a small cake-cutting ceremony and I obliged them by cutting the cake. It feels odd to be a child again. Thank god there were no candles on the cake. J

I could say ‘Bye’ to my office very late in the evening and started off to the famous ‘Dagdusheth Ganpati Temple’ of Pune. Its situated in one of the oldest and busiest part of Pune. I was very much in hurry and planned to take an auto-rickshaw. I leaped towards the nearest rickshaw stand and......... Stumped.... Murphy’s Law..... When you are in need of a rickshaw, you won’t find one. Usually I see at least 10 rickshaws sitting idle every day, but not today. Anyway... I strolled unwillingly for some 2-3 minutes when a rick passed by me. I gave a waving hand to stop him but it seemed he didn’t notice me. When I had lost hope, he stopped some 20-30 meters ahead of me. I prayed to God, let this guy be my saviour today. Yes, he was. He agreed to go the temple in the rush hour of thick evening traffic.

It was a long journey and would have been simply boring, but the rickshaw driver started a conversation on the most common topic in India, Cricket. India were playing Oz in Hyderabad and he asked “Cricket me interest hai kya Aapko?” How could I deny? Being an Indian, it was in my genes and I love it so much. I asserted saying “Ha.. kyu nahi”. He immediately replied as if anticipating my answer “Score kya hua? Kuchh idea hai kya? Australia batting kar raha tha”... I was stumped again, he was more updated than me on today’s match. Though I could have checked score over internet in the office, I didn’t get time. Ok... No problems.. I had my GPRS enabled mobile and checked the score while inside the rickshaw and updated him with details. After that, started a string of topics related to Indian cricket. Who should bat up the order, who should bowl in the dying overs, why India failed in T-20 and Champions Trophy this year, who after Sachin, who after Kumble, next year’s Cricket world cup, why Oz are so consistent, why India can’t produce a quality fast bowler. I could not believe all this was happening with an auto rickshaw driver. I must say, his view were very clear and supported by interesting facts. Better than most of the TV pundits. I loved it as much I do talking to my roomie Komet, who is an expert on any sports matter.

Half of the onward journey was passed and I didn’t realize how soon it has gone. He asked if I was going to return and I said I will return only after visiting the Temple. He offered to stay while I was in temple and take me back to my office/flat which I accepted willingly. Now the bonding was stronger and we started feeling more comfortable in each other’s company. He started asking me many questions about my job and what I do @ HSBC. I felt un-comfortable telling my job description to him. How would I tell him what I do in a non-technical lingo so that he can understand it. I tried my best to avoid technical terms and he seemed to be knowing well about jobs done in IT industry. Later he told that his friend works in an IT company and he knows about the nature of work done and pressures involved. I felt he is empathizing with me. He asked me if I come to temple every week, or it is some special day and I replied honestly. At this point, our onward journey ended and we reached the Temple. I checked the fare, 80 Rs, I gave him a 100 Rupee note and asked to keep the change as I was going to return back.

Murphy’s Law was again applied, as I saw a never-ending long queue of devotees at the temple. I was wondering if all of them were born on the same day as me. God was checking my patience; I put a brave face and increased the queue count by one. After around 45 minutes in the queue, I was given a chance to get a glimpse of the magnificent Ganesha idol. After my pooja, I started my return journey and turned my phone ON to call the Autowallah. Yes, autodrivers are tech savvy these days and keep mobiles. I was fearing if he has gone irritated waiting for me, but he was there even though I was late by more than half an hour. He later told me that he had my 20 Rs extra and that kept him stay there, otherwise he would have left with some other ‘sawari’. I was stumped again by his honesty.

On our return journey came the most stunning revealing. He was more comfortable now and asked me about my salary, my perks and working hours. I was really un-comfortable answering him but somehow answered. He had become a friend by this time. He asked me one final question ‘Are you satisfied with your job?’ ..... errrrrrrrrrrrr...... I cannot answer. All the time I was wondering about his knowledge and willing to know more about him but I was not courageous enough to ask any questions. Probably he sensed me and started telling me about himself.

I am a diploma engineer. 4 saal tak naukri kiya. 2 saal pehle naukri chhod diya. 7 hazaar rupiya basic salary tha. Family bada tha, paisa kam tha. Isliye naukri chhod diya. Aaj mai Rickshaw chalata hu aur mera marketing ka business hai. Monthly turnover 35-40 hazaar rupiya aa jata hai. Achcha business hua to 50 hazaar tak.”

By this time, I had reached my flat. I paid him his fare and gave him Prasad. He told, “Aapse baat karke achchha laga” and left. When I slept that night, I had this conversation fresh in my mind. Boy oh Boy... I had been talking to an Intellectual Rickshaw driver. The use of word ‘Turnover’ made me feel he was a businessman and not a rick driver. He has taken Rickshaw not by force but by choice. He was doing a job which he likes and he was earning more than me. J What am I doing in my job ??? I should take an inspiration from him. I will think about it at length.

Till then,


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Yes sir, that is life, we have to take tough decisions for family but here we are, the humans, who know how to win in every situation. The guy has still kept his hunger for knowledge growing and may be will be an upcoming entrepreneur.
    It may be possible that he drives Auto rickshaw just to increase his direct marketing contacts. Moreover once we understand no job is small or big, we are ready for the great success.
    It was really a nice read. But sir, pls avoid sharing your official information with people while traveling, it may turn otherwise too.