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The portrait of a man as an autowalla

Our new series gives you a glimpse of Delhiites from all walks of life.

entertainment Updated: Jul 14, 2010 01:33 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi

We were walking down the Ring Road near Bikaji Cama Place, when we approached a man.

Who are you? What are you doing here?
I’m Ramchandar Yadav. I’m an auto-driver. I’m waiting for customers.

An autowalla? Why do you folks always overcharge and never run by the meter?
Some autowallas are dishonest but some are very good. Where do you have to go? I will not charge you extra.

Since how long are you driving autos?
I came to Delhi in 1987 and bought an auto in ’90. But this is not I wanted to do.

Then?
I wanted to be a government servant. I wanted to serve my people.

Serve people!
People want to join government service to gain power...Trust me. You know, I used to go to this primary school in my village.

Which village?
Mesondah village in Kodarma district (Jharkhand). In this school, we had a master…
Devnandan master… he was very good in teaching. He had a passion to teach and he was very honest.

He was earnest in imparting us the right values… he was so inspiring. I wanted to serve people, the way he did. That’s why I wanted to be a government servant. But things did not work out and I had to leave school.

Why?
Poverty. We were so poor that sometimes it was difficult to arrange for evening meals. We had just a beegha of land in which my farmer father would grow dhaan (rice).

We were a family of 12. My grandparents, my uncles, my brothers. Till my first standard, there was no problem going to school. I could do with just a slate and a chalk.

You know, I had come first in my class. But when I was promoted to the second standard, I had to get text books and we didn’t have money. So I had to leave school.

And you came to Delhi?
First I went to Calcutta. I was 9-year-old then. I worked in a kothi (bungalow) there for a year. I would wash the dishes, sweep the floor but I hated it. Then a relative called me to Ahmedabad, where I again had to work as a house servant.

I didn’t like it. In ’87, I arrived in Delhi, where I got a job as a mechanic in a garage in Lajpat Nagar. But when I went to my village for a week, the owner hired someone else in my place. On my return, I borrowed money and purchased an auto.

Do you like this profession?
I’m 42, and by the time I reach my home in Wazirabad village, I have no energy to do anything but crash down in the bed. But I have to continue driving. My children are still young.

How many children do you have?
Sachin is 10, Sujit is 7 and Rohit is 4. They go to a school. My wife and my three sons live in the village.

What do you want your sons to be?
I want them to be educated men. I leave it to them what they want to become in life. I can only earn money for their school fee.