Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mr Sandeep Bachhe : MH-02-Z-8508.

Suvendu Roy of Titan Industries shares his inspirational encounter
with a rickshaw driver in Mumbai

Last Sunday, my wife, kid and I had to travel to Andheri from Bandra.
When I waved at a passing auto rickshaw, little did I expect that this
ride would be any different.

As we set off, my eyes fell on a few magazines (kept in an aircraft
style pouch) behind the driver's back rest. I looked in front and there
was a small TV. The driver had put on the Doordarshan channel.
My wife and I looked at each other with disbelief and amusement. In
front of me was a small first-aid box with cotton, dettol and some
medicines. This was enough for me to realise that I was in a special
vehicle. Then I looked around again, and discovered more -
there was a radio, fire extinguisher, wall clock, calendar, and pictures and
symbols of all faiths - from Islam and Christianity to Buddhism,
Hinduism and Sikhism. There were also pictures of the heroes of 26/11-
Kamte, Salaskar, Karkare and Unnikrishnan. I realised that not only my
vehicle, but also my driver was special.

I started chatting with him and the initial sense of ridicule and
disbelief gradually diminished. I gathered that he had been driving an
auto rickshaw for the past 8-9 years; he had lost his job when his
employer's plastic company was shut down. He had two school-going
children, and he drove from 8 in the morning till 10 at night. No break
unless he was unwell. "Sahab, ghar mein baith ke TV dekh kar kya faida?
Do paisa income karega toh future mein kaam aayega."
(Sir, what's the use of simply sitting at home and watching TV? If I earn
some income, then it will be useful in the future.)

We realised that we had come across a man who represents Mumbai - the
spirit of work, the spirit of travel and the spirit of excelling in life. I asked him
whether he does anything else as I figured that he did not have too much spare
time. He said that he goes to an old age home for women in Andheri once a
week or whenever he has some extra income, where he donates tooth brushes,
toothpastes, soap, hair oil, and other items of daily use. He pointed out to a
painted message below the meter that read: "25 per cent discount on metered
fare for the handicapped. Free rides for blind passengers up to Rs50". He also
said that his auto was mentioned on Radio Mirchi twice by the station RJs.
The Marathi press in Mumbai know about him and have written a few
pieces on him and his vehicle.

My wife and I were struck with awe. The man was a HERO! A hero
who deserves all our respect. I know that my son, once he grows up,
will realise that we have met a genuine hero. He has put questions to
me such as why should we help other people? I will try to keep this
incident alive in his memory.

Our journey came to an end; 45 minutes of a lesson in humility,
selflessness and of a hero-worshipping Mumbai - my temporary
home. We disembarked, and all I could do was to pay him a tip that
would hardly cover a free ride for a blind man.

I hope, one day, you too have a chance to meet Mr Sandeep Bachhe
in his auto rickshaw - MH-02-Z-8508.

He has got a first aid box on the left and a newspaper box on right (which had all hindi-english- marathi-gujrati and economic times)

He has got a tv on the top with cable (I was watching colors channel) and below tat is the tissue box. on the left is the mandir types and dont miss the "Only gandhigiri" written there , below tat is the calender and a notepad and pen along with a blue fan (which is blowing towards the customer who sits)

25% discount for handicapped !! who on this earth can expect somethin like this from an rickshawala yaar!!