Friday, June 13, 2008

Love thy Autowala

I had been out the whole day and managed to get only a few hours of sleep before work. Bones cracking and octupus eyed I dragged myself to get ready for work. Had a quick bite to eat with my lovely wife and rushed out the door. We had some targets to meet at work and was thinking of how we could do something different as I kicked started my bike.

The time was 7 PM IST and the roads were empty and we citizens had a smile on our face...everyone was a "Happy Singh." get the picture right !!!

It was a pretty uneventful ride till I felt a thud behind me.....TN 01 -Z- 3546 had just bumpered me in thick traffic. Yup, the yellow devil had struck again and with perfect precission and absolute innocence. Come on Boss you know how traffic iiissss....adjust saar...This time he didnt blame me for using my breaks, but he was really upset that I stopped the traffic to ask him what, why and ..never mind !!! By now I had reached boiling point and wanted to smash his auto like in the Incredible Hulk...I suddenly remembered a verse I knew from sunday school. "Love thy neighbour as thyself" WHAT, Love this Auto Kara....Man how can you love anyone in a Kaki and yellow combo... Another verse came to my mind " What use is it to love them that love you"....I took out my phone and started taking down Autoraja's number plate...I told him I was upset NOT because he bumpered me but because he seemed upset that this conversation was a waste of his time.Seeing me take down his number made him change his attitude..He started apologising and said "Saar I'll fall on your feet, please let me go"....Hmmmm I should try this with his buddies also...Anyways he realised his mistake and apologised wholeheartedly... I had calmed down by now and let him pass.

In India, auto rickshaw drivers generally appear in all-khaki clothes. Many of them belong to trade unions and celebrate May Day and International Labour Day.
In Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore, auto drivers often refuse to drive prospective customers to various destinations, albeit this being illegal. The hapless commuter then has to shop around, hopping from auto to auto in search of the right one. Normally their rates are the cost of their auto.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Paatima at Alwarpet

Riding back home from work at 5:30 AM has been my schedule for the past 9 months and it pretty much has not changed. Thoughts of eating some bacon or masala dosa filled my mind as I rode back home. The sun had come out and Chennai looked beautiful with all the traffic causers and law breakers still tucked in bed...snoring like they were innocent babies.

I had just passed the Apollo cancer hospital when I saw and old lady, probably 85 yrs old, here legs had given way, and she was actually supporting her body weight with her hands and dragged her body on the road. It probably took her 1 hour to travel the 50 steps I could make in a minute. Her hair was matted, her teeth had all fallen out and it looked like she was dragging herself to a tea shop to get herself a nice hot drink to wash away all grogginess. For her it was another day and she had to start dragging herself to the tea shop before the traffic hit the road.

I wizzed past her on my Enfield and thought aahhh home is close by, I couldnt wait to meet my wife an get some shut eye. As I reached the tenaympet signal I realised I had done the most selfish thing anyone could have ever done. All I cared about was my life, my family, my work, my saving for the future, Oh and ofcourse "MY GOD". My God who taught me love, sharing, holiness, kindness. I skreeeched to a halt...(ok that was a little too much drama) and turned back on the wrong side of the road. Aahhh chuck it, the cops were probably snoring at this time and no one would mind me on the wrong side of the road at this time of the day. So much for law breakers !!

I reached paatima and realised that she had probably taken 5 walking steps that I would have taken. Parked my bike by the side walk and asked paatima, "Paatima unga kal eh ku inna achi"?

Aparently, she was a case of a hit and run accident and her legs had given way ever since. Her son was a drunk and would take away all her money and spend it at the local "TASMAC" (Indian liquor shop). It had rained the previous night and I could see she was damp all over. I reached into my pocket and gave her some money and I saw her eyes dance for a second. It was a bit more that what I would give normal beggars, but eyes filled with tears and she called me "yen kanu". I could actually see the love in her face and I didnt know what to do with myself. With tear filled eyes she said her son didnt care about her at all and.....she was lost for words by now and so was I.

As I rode back home all my problems seemed really small and I wished I hadnt wasted the 'so much' that I've had. For me this was not an achievement, but a reality check.