I have been a usual Dilliwallah cursing autowallahs — the biggest thieves in Delhi — all the time for not going by the meter. But somehow, the autorickshaw as a machine has always excited me and for a long time, I have nurtured the dream to actually drive it for a day.
Frequent conversations with auto drivers made me even more determined to realise my dream. I knew that it would cost me Rs 215 to hire an autorickshaw for a day, in addition to which I would have to pay for the CNG from my own pocket. That seemed quite reasonable, except for the fact that no owner would give his vehicle to a person he didn’t know.
One day, I got out of office at around 11.30 in the night. I was sure I would have to shell out double the fare to reach
home and that too, if I managed to get an auto at that hour. Luckily, I found one and the deal was struck for Rs 50. As usual, the dreamer in me started a conversation with the driver about renting an auto.
The moment I shared my dream, the auto screeched to a halt. The auto driver asked me to come in the front and take on the steering wheel, or rather the handle. Astounded, I asked the driver if he was drunk. But he seemed to be in his senses.
I drove the auto for 8 km right up to East of Kailash, where I lived. It was sheer bliss, even though I found it a bit difficult to turn corners. At the colony gate, the security guard stopped the auto, for he thought that there were no passengers inside. And then I peeped out. He was taken aback. “Just taking a joy ride,” I told the bemused man.
My dream had come true and for the first time, I willingly paid an auto driver more than what was required. I paid him Rs 100. And I told him that it was not a tip but a remuneration for the guts he had shown in giving his
autorickshaw to an unknown person.