In Praise of Bangalore's Auto Drivers

Published: 29th September 2014 06:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th September 2014 06:05 AM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: Is it true then that what we seek is what we find? Because, over 20 years of commuting in Bangalore's autos has left me with nothing that even vaguely resembles rage or disillusion. Many auto drivers I have met have been pop philosophers, counsellors and honest even though they have had no incentive to be so. So there was the old driver who saw me struggling with a sick baby on my way back from office and advised, "Bibi, your child is too young to travel so much every day. Find a creche near your home.”

Or Yarab, an auto driver and a fellow AIR fan who drove me to a meeting one fine day to the accompaniment of Pukarta chala hun main. And drove back for miles to return some documents that I had left in his auto. Or the old man who said, "Driving for 50 years. I can still see clearly, have no BP, diabetes or any heath problem. I can stay at home but I can't. This is my life." And when told it was a pleasure to meet him, he said, "Hum aur aap kaun hote hain milne waale.. milata to woh hai" (Who are you and me to meet? It's all arranged by God).

Or the Osho fan who drives around with a picture of his idol instead of the usual gods and goddesses and listens to a GK show aired on AIR. He told me what Osho had taught him, "When grief comes, let it. When joy comes, let it. In this non-resistance, you find everything." Or men who radiate a Zen calm and go out of their way to help if you are too daft to remember an address. Drivers who tie up plastic screens when it is pouring  just so you won’t get wet.

Yesterday, when I crossing the street with my mother, an auto driver stopped us and asked us to get in. "She should not be troubled, " he pointed at my mother. He then took us to the temple, dropped my mother home and drove me to office.

He asked, "Your  mother? No father? Take care of her, okay?" Yes sir, I said silently. Thinking that we meet the people we need to meet in life. People who cannot be simply described as Bangalore's auto drivers. Because they are people just like you and me. As good. As bad. As indifferent. And sometimes wise beyond words because they learn everything the hard way. And with a rear view mirror that teaches them perspective like nothing else can.

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