CHENNAI : If there is an emergency in Alangudi in Pudukkottai, 515 Ganeshan is most likely the first person to be called in by the locals. Sixty-seven-year-old S Ganeshan, popularly known as 515 Ganeshan, owns an Ambassador which he drives for free of cost to ferry people to hospitals in case of accidents and pregnancies. “Even before dialling 108, people think of calling my number during emergency,” he said.
In 40 years, Ganeshan has driven more than 2,000 pregnant women safely to hospitals, and 2,000-odd accident victims. “Till date I have driven 5,498 dead bodies in my cars,” he said.
His services don’t just end in his town. When Cuddlaore was hit by floods, he collected supplies and headed to the district to help the victims. “I also helped to transport and distribute relief material during the 2004 tsunami and during the recent Kerala floods. Some good samaritans bore my fuel expenses. I put up a sticker, 515, in my car when I went out for collection and distribution,” he said.
Talking about the significance of 515, he said, “That was the registration number of the first car, an Ambassador that I bought for `17,000 when I was 20 years old. I have been helping people since then. Gradually, people started calling me ‘515 Ganeshan’. I drove my first car until it could no longer be driven. I dismantled it myself and sold the scraps.”
He has changed over 20 cars before buying his latest Ambassador. Apart from helping people in need, he makes his living by driving a rented taxi and also owns a small scrap shop. “I have five daughters and all of them are married now. Many people helped me with the marriage expenses and they did so on their own. Had I just been a taxi driver and saved up money for my daughters, the money would have been the only thing that I ever saved. Now I have saved many lives and gathered blessings.”