I recently landed back home to Nagpur from Nasik after attending my sister’s marriage. The luggage was colossal and toll- taking for my back. The luggage had been dragged all the way through the journey before they stepped into their home town and awaited to return at the railway station. But there was another angle of the story that was waiting to unfold, and that proved to be harmful, for a moment, of course!!!
The prepaid auto-rickshaw service at the Nagpur Railway Station charges the passengers based on the rate-charts at the booth. I booked two rickshaws taking into account the luggage and the passenger strength. After safely transferring the luggage on the auto-rickshaws, we all boarded the autos and were ready to move, when at one corner, I saw the two drivers discussing something among each other. After a while, they came to me and said, “Bhai Sahab, itne bhade mein nahin chal payega” (This fare is not enough!!). Now, I had deducted a slip based on what they charged from their fare chart, but still the auto-drivers won’t agree. I said, “Ye apke rate-chart ke hisab se hi to auto reserve kiya hai”(I have booked the rickshaws as per your fare chart), but the reluctant drivers said, “Ye counter par aadmi naya hai, isko kaam nahin aata”(The guy at the counter is new, he doesn’t know his job yet). This argument had no end, as I knew everyone on this land has made up his mind to be cannibalistic, so, without much argument further, I decided to pay off the extra he asked. (Today, I was not in the justice seeking mode!!!)..
I reluctantly sat in the auto and was not happy about this at all. As the vehicles started moving, I thought about all those times when the common man must be compromising with his hard-earned money at instances when he is left with little choices in his day-to-day life, whether it is education, medical care, basic necessities so on and so forth. I felt I was being over-charged, yet, I had no option. This could be the worst feeling of all..I say..
I had been reading about the auto-drivers of India, through my fellow bloggers, who often had dreaded experiences in India, while dealing with such auto-wallas, and I thought they were right. Today, I could notice the same things happening with me. Things like meter not working, or meter working faster, moving along confusing lanes, over-charging passengers had all become a commonplace. But then I thought, all said and done, the driver will not be on news tomorrow for a possible fare over-charging “scam”, and even if he did, his miniscule identity will be lost in the cloud of the larger Indian “Scamdom” lobby. So, I did not have to bother that much..
The rickshaws swayed past the heavy traffic and jam-packed lanes of the city and took short-cuts further to enter my address, a little cut-off from the city. When they reached my address, my family members including myself started unloading the luggage. I paid off the drivers, who then got busy sharing the fare among themselves, and all of us forgot the last but one suitcase inside one of the two autos which had comfortably made its way under the seat while it was being placed at the rear seat of the auto-rickshaw.
When the autos were gone, we opened the main door of our house, and realized our blunder. The very next moment, I was with my father on another chaotic road-trip, rushing back to the railway station. Once we reached there, we spoke at the counter (same guy who was new and didn’t knew much about his job) and asked for the rickshaw drivers mobile numbers.
I called them up to find out whether they could find any luggage left behind or not, to which the reply was a NO. So by the time I hanged up, I had bad news for my wife, who was unhappy to lose her marriage saris (and I didn’t feel good about that too.)
I headed back home with my father when half-way through, my wife called up, with a happy voice on the other side.”Peye gechi luggage, chole esho” (Got the luggage, come back home now). I was a little surprised. Then I asked my wife, how?
She mentioned that the auto-driver had returned. He had already picked up another passenger and while trying to load his luggage in the carrier, he realized that one of our suitcases was left behind. Without second thoughts, the driver returned, with the suitcase and handed it over at our address.
My wife checked the luggage and found everything intact and was happy about it. She paid the driver for the passenger he had lost because of us, although the driver hadn’t insisted upon it. Partly, it had been our mistake to not have checked the luggage properly before we left the auto-rickshaw, but then, we didn’t pay a heavy price for it.
At that point, I could recollect the arguments I had with the drivers moments back at the railway station; and all the things that went past my mind after that. The driver had the choice of opportunity, yet he acted otherwise. Sometimes, we are too quick to judge, before such simple incidences change our point-of-view instantly. This incident had changed my mind…
“Not all auto-rickshaw drivers in India are inconsiderate”.