Friday, January 9, 2015

About a School Bag, an Auto rickshaw and Goodness


Yesterday had dawned like any other weekday. Morning tantrums from my six year old who assured me that he needed at least another hour of sleep to get his energy back, coercing him to eat, getting him ready and sighing in relief after watching him go to school.

His school is at a distance of eight kilometers from my place. As the school bus is often crowded, we prefer to drop him ourselves to school. My husband drops him at school on his way to office and I pick him up in the afternoon. As I am not an expert in driving through the unruly traffic of Bangalore, I prefer to travel by auto rickshaw.

While I was getting ready to go and pick him up from school, our apartment security came to inform us that water would not be available from twelve to two o’ clock owing to the cleaning works going on. I stored up water but didn’t have time to finish cooking lunch. The lazy ‘me’, rejoiced at the chance and I decided to enjoy a lunch outing with my son at our favorite restaurant. Trust me, I never let go of such golden opportunities.

We took an auto from the lane near the school. My son was excited as at the restaurant he got two scoops of ice cream always. He didn’t know that they charged almost six times more than the lowly ice cream from our local ice cream vendor.

In the excitement of eating ice cream, getting down from the auto, he began to rush off towards the restaurant and I hurried along. We had a sumptuous lunch relaxing in the cool interior of the hotel and after paying our bill when I got up, two things struck me at once.
One, with that amount of money, I could have bought minimum three best-sellers from Indian authors.
Two, something was missing… *groan*… my son’s school bag.
I asked my grey cells to work and remembered that he had kept it in the back of our seat in the auto. Usually I keep it on my lap. It was surely lost now, gone, perhaps, forever.

All now depended on tracing the auto rickshaw. Though it seemed like a futile attempt, I went back to the school premises and talked with the regular auto drivers there in my best Kannada. They told me in their best English that –“No-madam...he no here,” after I described his looks.

Though I am bad at recalling faces, this auto driver was not difficult to recall. He was a man who was a Swamy, one who was taking the mandatory fasting to visit the holy shrine of Ayyappa at Sabarimala. Dressed all in black, he had liberally smeared the bhasma over his forehead, wore a rudraksha chain and had a bindi made of concentric circles of sandal paste and  red kum
kum as well. His hair was long and was tied into a pony at his nape. If not for his smiling and calm disposition, he could have played a villain in a sandalwood movie.

I had given up all hopes of getting the bag back when at 9.30, the auto driver called on my husband’s mobile. He had got the number from the school diary that was inside the bag. As my son had deposited the bag on the back of the seat, he had not seen it until then. My husband asked where he stayed and he said he was from Peenya, a good 20 km distance from our place. He assured my husband that he would bring it next morning at 8.30 near the school premises.
As promised, today morning, he drove all the way from Peenya to JP Nagar to return the bag. He refused to charge any money and then on my husband’s insistence, asked us to give some change. The meter charge for the distance travelled itself would have been more than 250 rupees. But we made him accept 500 Rs, which he was reluctant to take, as he had braved the rush hour morning traffic just to come all the way to return the bag.
Thank you unknown auto driver, we forgot to even ask your name in the morning rush. 

If he had just disposed off the bag, we would have been in big trouble. The school term was near the end and to get the textbooks and notebooks ready for the annual assessment would have been tiring and an almost uphill task.

As one of my friends commented on my status about it on Facebook, I had indeed experienced the glimpse of a living God. Such good acts without expecting anything in return is what brings us closer to the divine.
This particular incident also convinced me that belief in positivity is beneficial. We do attract the things that we experience in life. I have heard many friends complaining about auto drivers. To tell the truth, an auto is my favorite mode of transport in Bangalore and I have come across only good auto wallas here.
We often forget that they are service providers and instead treat them like scum, cheaters and haggle for hours to save a few rupees. We would not mind spending thrice the usual amount on popcorn at a multiplex or on food while eating out at our favorite restaurant.
If we are stranded at a place and an auto wala comes there then, instead of being grateful for their help, we shout at them once we reach our destination, haggling for a single rupee.
They are making a living just like you. Be considerate. We often forget to look at the bigger picture and become the worst sort of individuals. What goes always comes around.
It is often little acts of kindness, which bring sunshine into our world.


  1. Felt positive reading the incident. Wonder how come you have never met an unruly auto guy ? Lucky u and ur stars.

  2. Thanks for reading Ajai Pai. Yes, lucky me. I seem to repel the bad ones, I guess.

  3. you are right.. little things give more happiness ...
    and I will say what the first comment says you are lucky ...