mirror of relationship with an autorickshaw driver on bangalore roads

Its not uncommon to see vehicles on Bangalore roads, typically autorickshaws, leaving a trail of billowing smoke, as if they were one of those sky-writing planes, road-writing some message on the road especially by the convoluted way they drive. Whenever feasible, I try to talk to them about it. I don’t have much of an expectation that something will change but anyway I want to atleast try bringing it to their attention. The easy way is to end up picking up a fight as they can become pretty self-defensive (and most people follow one of the Old Concrete Jungle sayings… offence is the best form of defence!). The hard way is to not end up picking up a fight, and atleast part with just conveying the message. Let me get this straight… I’m not some kind of missionary, I like doing this because I like interacting with people and find this experiment fun (most of the time!), whenever feasible.

In the first place, feasibility of conveying any message to a speeding auto rickshaw driver flitting through traffic like a butterfly does through flowers (oh what a horrible analogy) is pretty hard without jeopardising one’s own safety which is the last thing I want to do, having already jeopardized it enough by the very fact that I’m driving on the road. In any case, there are occasional situations like traffic jams or signal lights when this actually becomes feasible. Probability is further reduced if its not easy to navigate my own vehicle alongside his (if its not easy then its not worth the trouble!)

Then if all that works out, and I’m actually alongside the perpetuator of evil smoke, there’s the issue of communication. Ask an autorickshaw driver about directions to any place and he’ll kind heartedly all but draw a detailed road map for you. But talk to him about the pollution from his exhaust, and he might all but run you over with his three wheeled rattling contraption.

One more factor – its usually just a few seconds gap that we get to talk, before the signal lights up or the traffic jam starts moving/crawling again. So there’s not much time for friendly introduction or light some small talk to get warned up 😉 One needs to get straight to the point. This is quite a challenge, without sounding unfriendly and aggressive – it has taken a continuos refinement of technique – sense of humor, gentleness in tone of voice, smile, creativity, and most importantly, a good deal of empathy for their situation that they might have been toiling in traffic all day (driving can be quite strenous) for a frustratingly meagre income – all these count.

Eventually when I have talked to them, I have got a few replies like “then pull over to the side, don’t drive on the road!“, some “ok fine, you are right”  just to humor me, but some positive cases as well. This post is about one such positive case.

I pulled alongside this guy – a prime candidate with real thick smoke – at a red light. A little ahead of us,was another auto with thick fumes emating from its exhaust as well. I spoke to this guy next to me – “look at that fellow, so much of smoke… so many diseases like asthma allergy etc he is freely distributing to everyone behind him“. This guy stared long and hard at the smoke with a concerned look, and sort of seemed to agree with me… And then I added “er… actually, your auto as well…” and he said “oh… I’ll definitely get it checked up

Btw reminded myself to ensure my own vehicle got serviced soon 😉 (Actually I prefer commuting by bus a lot of time. After I got over my apprehensions about it, found that its pretty cool else for longer distances and esp in the more recent range of buses, and esp during off-peak hours!)

JK says

Most thoughtful people have the desire to help the world. They think of themselves as apart from the mass. They see so much exploitation, so much misery; they see scientific and technical achievements far in advance of human conduct, comprehension and intelligence. Seeing all this about them and desiring to change the conditions, they consider that the mass must first be awakened.

Often this question is put to me: Why do you emphasize the individual and not consider the mass? From my point of view, there can be no such division as the mass and the individual. …

So the mass is ourselves. You are the mass and I am the mass, and in each one of us there is the one and the many, the one being the conscious, and the many the unconscious. The conscious can be said to be the individual. So in each one of us we have the one and the many.

The many, the unconscious, is composed of unquestioned values, values that are false to facts, values which through time and usage have become pleasant and acceptable; it is composed of ideals which give us security and comfort, without deep significance…. This I call the unconscious, the mass, of which each one of us is a part, whether we know it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not.

If there is to be a clear reflection, the mirror must not be distorted, its surface must be even and clean. So must the mind-heart, which is an integrated whole, not two distinct and separate parts, be free from its self-created perversions before there can be discernment, comprehension, balance or intelligence. To live completely, experience must continually be brought into the conscious.

Reminds me of a scene from the brilliant movie Finding Nemo. In the fishtank, Nemo meets the different fish in the tank… one of them is Deb. Deb feels that her own reflection inside the tank which looks like another fish to her, is her sister, and says to Nemo…

Kid, if there’s anything you need, just ask your auntie Deb, that’s me. Or if I’m not around, you can always talk to my sister Flo. [turns to Flo] Hi,how are you? [Whispers to Nemo] Don’t listen to anything my sister says, she’s nuts! Ha ha ha ha!

2 Responses to “mirror of relationship with an autorickshaw driver on bangalore roads”

  1. praneshachar Says:

    sanjay u are very interesting things to do which other people rarely do. kudos to you. yes there ae lot of autodriver who wants to follow rules mainatain their vehicle neat and tidy less harmful. great talking to some these people. nice post sanjay hats off to u for a different idea u get and u do take that in all earnest and complete the assgument
    thank u so much for a nice post
    pranesh

  2. Sanjay M Says:

    thanks sir for your nice comment

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