Everyday folks, people who go about their daily lives like the others around them. Only, in an increasingly greedy world, these lovely folks help keep the humanity alive.
Meet Kisanrao Ingale, a resident of Chandavarkar Road, Borivli West. He’s been driving an auto-rickshaw for over 36 years. I met him the other day when looking for someone to ferry me to a meeting. He was in his auto, bearing the registration number: MH02DK3666. Five auto guys before him had refused to ferry me to my destination. As i got in, he requested me to sit in the middle. Smiling at the puzzled look on my face, he gently said, that the shock-absorber over the left wheel is a little weak, hence the request. As we took on the traffic & the abysmal roads, i learned a lot from him.
He spoke about how he came to Mumbai from his hometown somewhere in north-central Maharashtra, with nothing but dreams of making a living here. He took to driving a rickshaw for lack of an education & other means of employment. He’s seen the roads go from a warm, friendly place, to one where no one has the time to smile. I learned that he had two sons. He’s worked hard to educate them & see them doing well in society. His hard work over the years has paid off & his eldest son is now a Chartered Account studying for the CPA while the youngest is a Science graduate & works in a stock-broking firm.
Kisanrao rued that there are way too many auto-rickshaws around in the city & the way they’re clogging up the roads. He blamed it on the fact that the ‘owner-driven’ model had slowly given way to a ‘shift-driver’ system. While owner-drivers ply their autos for 12 hours on an average, those autos that are rented out to drivers end up plying ’round-the-clock’. He also spoke about dust & pollution, and how it has affected his health.
Observing another driver sitting with one leg folded, he mentioned how drivers these days are ignoring the conditions and thereby faced with health complications in only a few years of driving. The auto-rickshaw itself is poorly designed he said, with little attention to ergonomics; and though things have improved in the past couple of years, there’s still a lot that needs to be revamped. Speaking on the importance of fitness levels he shared that his daily habit of walking 30 minutes, has kept the many aches & pains at bay, that usually plague career drivers, and auto-rickshaw drivers in particular.
It was soon time to wind up the engaging conversation & as we bid adieu, i wished him well on his trips & thanked him for sharing his story.