Hail an auto anywhere along Chennai’s iconic promenade along the Marina, and if you are lucky, you might just hitch a ride with the city’s only policeman turned auto driver. Until barely two years ago, S Sekar was a strict sub-inspector at the Chintadripet police station.
Moustachioed, gruff and a little intimidating, Sekar is every person’s vision of the quintessential policeman. At least, until he begins talking. The intimidating moustache instantly metamorphoses from the gruff to the jolly, as an animated Sekar spins vivid tales of why he began driving an auto after retirement. In fact, he has a surprise in store.
“It is the other way around. I didn’t take up a completely new profession. I decided to go back to the old one,” he smiles. Yes… nearly four years before he donned the khakhi of the Tamil Nadu police, Sekar had donned the khakhi of a different ilk – that of a Chennai auto driver. “I began driving auto in 1984 when I was 24. There was a bit of trouble with the recruitment process then and the selections were scrapped. So I drove an auto till I became a policeman in ’84,” he recollects.
Nearly four decades later, Sekar retired as an SI. But after a few months of spending time at home, he was unable to sleep. “I thought about it and I decided that I might as well take up the auto again,” he confesses.
He still charges only by the meter, and starts riding early in the day. “I begin work by dropping my granddaughter to school in the morning, pick up every ride that I get and go back home by around 9 pm. I earn about `1,000 a day, excluding fuel and other costs. But most importantly,” he smiles, “I sleep well.”