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Old 17th February 2009, 19:01   #1
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Default The most astonishing ride of my life

As the song goes "The echoes of the amplifiers, ringing in my head".

Post Iron Maiden concert. Bangalore. 11:30PM.

I needed a ride back home. Whitefield. 20 odd kilometers. Every auto guy I asked quoted not less than Rs 600. I was at my wits end, not knowing what to do.

Another auto guy pulls over. I ask him to take me to Whitefield. He says Rs 500. Wow! a discount, I thought. Told him "No money, sorry. Only have Rs 200. If you care to go in that much lets go else I'm sorry."

He tells me candidly that no auto guy will take me from Palace grounds to Whitefield at this time of night for less than Rs 500. I in turn tell him that I'll find some other way since I don't have that much cash. He reduces the amount to Rs 460. I still say no. He drives off.

20 minutes pass. He returns, parks on opposite side of the road and gestures to me. Rs 400. I say no. Rs 300 is all I can spare. He walks over. We haggle. He settles on Rs 350. All haggling done in surprisingly good English by him.

I'm worried about this ride. It's an area I don't know. I keep asking myself if I'm doing the right thing. I did not want to be in the newspaper the next day as the "young techie (even though I'm not a techie) gets stabbed and has his valuables stolen".

The first 5 minutes are tense. He is driving through inner lanes and pocket roads. My heart is beating fast. After a while though, we emerge near MG Road and I breathe a sigh of relief. 10 minutes have passed. I didn't know that I was about to witness something incredible.

The auto guys starts to chat. Usual pleasantries. Again, I notice that his English is very good. Not just driver good. Better. I ask him where he learnt to speak English and be so polite. He narrated his story:

His name is Jayachandar Babu. He is a shopkeeper, who had a shop specialising in fabrication, gensets, hoardings and the like, on Commercial Street. Four years ago, his shop burned down. He lost Rs 35 lakhs. A year and a half ago, he started to drive an auto so he could make a little extra on the side. His reason: his family. Particularly his children. They don't know that after a full day at work, their father drives an auto throughout the night to earn a little extra.

I ask him how he feels about it. His reply stuns me, "Sir, its a dog's life. You cannot imagine what my mind goes thorugh when people ask me if I can find them women or drugs. It hurts me to the core. I'm struggling to come back to my feet while these other auto guys are ruining the name of the few of us who are honest."

He continues, telling me that he can no longer employ labor, so has to do all the work by himself at his shop. I ask him how driving an auto helps. He explains the maths to me. Cost of hire for 12 hours is Rs 150. Cost of fuel is Rs 150. Another charge is Rs 35. Total Rs 335. He says that he cannot drive for all the 12 hours since he never wants his kids to see him reach home at 8AM after his shift. So he drives only till 4AM. A man needs sleep too, I say. He replies, "If my family can sleep in peace, then I can be at peace."

In those 8 hours, he has to make more than Rs 335 to break even and make some money. I ask him what drives him to do this, days on end. He says, "I never want my children to ask me for anything that I have to say no to." There is a lump in my throat.

I have never seen so much honesty, from a total stranger, as we drive through a desolate Bangalore. As we keep talking, I realise that he does not see the futility in what he is doing. Most men would break if they were to experience such a financial loss. Not him. He says to me, "Sir, you see. I'll be back one day. I'll have a shop. The same way I did. I will not let my children suffer."

It has not been 40 mins. I am near my destination. I am astonished. At the will of this human being. At his commitment to his family. At his sheer audacity as he takes on a world that has not been kind to him.

Was this the end?

We near Marathalli. We notice two men pushing a bike. Its 12:40AM. Babu swerves over to them while saying to me, "Sir, we should help them."
I cannot fathom this person anymore. He asks one of the men to sit in the auto while he will push the other to their destination. No puncture shops will be open at this time, he informs them. Their expression reveals that I'm not the only one spellbound by his helpfulness. They politely decline.

We drive on. Within minutes we are at my residence. In those 45 minutes, I felt that I had learnt so much from a humble yet incredibly strong autowallah.

I ask him is he has change for a 1000. He smiles wryly, "Sir, now we will see my value". He pulls out exact change. I see that he had not lied to me when he had said before that in 48 hours he had earned Rs 400. He empties out every pocket and money bag, hands me my change. I give Rs 50 back to him. He apologises, "Sir, I'm sorry for badgering you for so long about the fare." I reply, "I am sorrier than you are. I lied to you when I said that I did not have money."

He gives me his phone number and tells me that anytime I need a ride near MG Road, I should call him and he will wait for me. I promise him that I will utilise his services again.

There are many anecdotes that I have not included here for fear of boring the reader.

My sincere request to all Bangaloreans here on TBHP. If any of you are ever looking for an auto ride in and around that area, please give him call. Every little bit that we can do will help.

Full name: Jaychandar Babu
Ph: 9980690021
Location: Corporation Bank ATM, MG Road.

And it will be best auto-ride of your life. I promise.

Last edited by Rehaan : 18th February 2009 at 11:03. Reason: Contact details added to first post for reader convenience.
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:13   #2
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WOW... thats all i can.

We should all learn from this guy - he's the type of person everyone should meet atlest once. It's people like this that deserve everything in life - A good house, life.. win the lottery.. etc.. Hats off to him - and i truely hope and pray he gets what he wants.
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:15   #3
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Amazing... Thanks for sharing the experience.
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:16   #4
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I can relate to the experience, Bluu. I have had more than one similar experiences in my ten years in Mumbai. I have been humbled by autowallahs on few occasions. As they say, all big cities are great levelers.

Wish him all the best and may his difficult times end soon!
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:20   #5
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Very heartwarming story.

I had met a similar guy driving auto at night after a business loss, that was about 3 years back. He was not fluent in Kannada, so he switched to impeccable English. When I asked he told me he studied in CBSE, so his Kannada was weak. He was planning to get back into business, auto was only a stop gap arrangement.
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:24   #6
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Absolutely touchy mate, these kind of experiences are rarity in todays world. All the best to that guy and hope he goes to that level where he wants to.
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:26   #7
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When they say there's something about India... this is exactly it! We are probably the most resilient race in face of so absolute corruption and bad leadership... I just wish we werent ignorant.
Thanks for sharing!
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:29   #8
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Really inspiring

Originally Posted by Bluu View Post
My sincere request to all Bangaloreans here on TBHP. If any of you are ever looking for an auto ride in and around that area, please give him call..
Where is the number? May be you can check with him before posting the number and share here at T-BHP.
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:35   #9
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Please do not take it as an offense, But, aren't we missing the point that the auto-guy was overcharging just like any other while trying to make his moolah?
Once I took an auto from BTM to Ulsoor and had a similar experience with the auto guy who was too honest to resist (including the meter) and I paid him Rs. 20/- over the meter.
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Old 17th February 2009, 19:42   #10
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Bluu i would say i would have payed him Rs.500 without further any thinking, in this situation at Bangalore where the people simply rob everyone..

Hats of to this guys and we wish good future for this guy and guys on T-BHP should help these kind of guys by giving support in his buisness of fabrication, gensets, hoardings and the like by giving thos kind of work if we have any...
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Old 17th February 2009, 20:07   #11
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Very very touching, reaches for your heart and touches the soul! I have a kid and I can fully understand how Jayachandar feels. Hats off to his determination, what "Bluu" says is correct- not many would have the determination to carry on, after what happened to Jayachandar!

I don't use an auto frequently, but next time onwards, whenever I use one, I would wish it would be Jayachandar's.

Bluu, please pm me his phone/cell number.
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Old 17th February 2009, 20:18   #12
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Originally Posted by Bluu View Post
And it will be best auto-ride of your life. I promise.
Just reading this heartwarming tale made me think of how tolerant and resilient Indians are in the face of so much adversity.

Thanks Bluu for sharing your experience with us.


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Old 17th February 2009, 20:25   #13
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I am touched by this and further running away from taking responsibility.

I have myself faced academic failures twice and I am broken from within. This story is really inspiring and touches heart.
Usually we curse autowalas, me included, but a few incidences come to my mind.

1) One of our family friends faced this. His son was in Nirma university, A'bad. His father being with IPCL in Vadodara, every week ( normally ) he would come down to Vadodara the entire family was ( and is ) based in Vadodara. Once when he was coming by trian, he was sitting in very cramped space. This prevented the blood from going into his legs. He stood up to look which station it was and he could not balance his body, fell off and both of his legs came under the train from above the knee. He was unconcious.

Now it was an autowalah who spotted him and took him to hospital.

2) While I had front wheel slide in my Caliber, my right shoulder was badly damaged. So I took an auto to hospital. While returning he told me about an accident where a girl on bicycle met with an accident and she was in pool of blood. He took that girl to hospital, she was saved. I read the same the next day in newspaper.

3) During the unfortunate 2002 riots in Gujarat ( it has affected my career ) one lady in sensitive area had some health issue during her pregnancy ( I think its called labor pain ). It was an autowalah who took the risk and took this family to hospital. The life of that woman and her child were saved by an autowalah.

Usually these autowalah are very rare to spot. But they are really genuine persons.
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Old 17th February 2009, 20:29   #14
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Touching story. If there's some way you inform him that you have given your number to a group of people and they will gladly use his services it would be great. Mods will have to see how to publish the number here. We don't want him getting haggled with marketing calls.
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Old 17th February 2009, 20:40   #15
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Wow. Amazing story - its heartwarming to run into such human beings - one can surely learn lessons about life just about anywhere.
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