In life, very rarely do we get to hear of inspiring stories that go straight to the heart.
Here is a true story about a Mumbai autorickshaw driver, Mr Sandeep Bachhe, auto rickshaw no.: MH-02-Z-8508. If you ever travel in it, feel blessed.
The following was a friend’s experience – his wife, his kid as they traveled from Andheri to Bandra. They waved at a passing auto, little realizing that this was going to be an unforgettable experience.
They set off and the friend noticed a few magazines (kept in an aircraft style pouch) behind the driver’s back rest. He looked in front and there was a small TV. The driver had put on the Doordarshan channel.
Friend and wife looked at each other with disbelief and amusement. In front of them was a small first-aid box with cotton, dettol and some medicines. This was enough for them to realise that they were in a special vehicle. Then they looked round 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. It was obvious that not only the autorickshaw but also the driver were special.
They began chatting with him and the initial sense of ridicule and disbelief gradually diminished. Mr Bachche 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.”
The friend realised that he had come across a man who represents Mumbai – the spirit of work, the spirit of travel and the spirit of excelling in life. He asked him whether he did anything else considering 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 Rs. 50“
The friend was struck with awe, naturally. The man was a HERO! A hero who deserves all our respect. The journey came to an end; 45 minutes of a lesson in humility, selflessness, and of a hero-worshipping Mumbai.
I hope, one day, we too have a chance to meet Mr Sandeep Bachhe in his auto rickshaw: MH-02-Z-8508.