Refusal of fare by rickshaw-guys in Mumbai is something almost everybody faces on a daily basis. Finding a rickshaw in the peak hours is nothing short of a miracle. Even if you do find one, you are sure to be at the rickshaw-driver’s mercy when it comes to the choice of route to the destination. What really irritates me about their attitude is the indifference with which they treat the people sometimes. Yesterday I found one after walking about 600 meters from my college and unsuccessfully trying to convince about twelve of them.
Sitting in the rickshaw with two other classmates, I recollected this incident that occurred about two weeks ago. It was a bright sunny afternoon as I just walked out of college and saw a rickshaw standing nearby. When I approached him, he asked me to sit even without knowing about my destination. I was pleasantly surprised. “आप बैठ जाइए | आप जहाँ भी जाना चाहते हैं, जिस मार्ग से जाना चाहते हैं, मैं आपको ले जाऊँगा |” was what he said. This roughly translates to “Please sit down. I will take you wherever you want to go, by whichever route you prefer.” I couldn’t help but smile at his politeness. Observing the quizzical expression on my face, he told me that he avoided refusing fare, especially that of ladies and college students. On asking why, he told me that he understood the inconvenience the college students face while travelling. Like me, his daughter too is a university student and faces the same problem every day. I was too stumped to reply.
I felt a surge of pride as I got off at the railway station. One simple man – just a simple rickshaw driver had made his contribution to the society, by doing his job well and taking pains to educate his children. One simple man made a difference. He made my day. I noted the registration number of the rickshaw as I left for the railway platform with a smile on my face. As you might have guessed by now, it was MH02VA7909.