This auto driver on speed dial for Pune students, party-hoppers, elderly; his moto ‘count on me’... at no extra charge
The ‘chosen one’ Sylvester Anthony ensures women, college students and elderly people are dropped safely around the city in his rickshawpune Updated: Oct 12, 2017 16:52 IST
A warm and welcoming voice greets you when you dial Sylvester Anthony’s number. When HT contacted him for a feature story, he politely refused saying he is not doing anything publicity worthy. After much persistence, he agreed to meet us at his residence in Wadgaon Sheri. A 47-year-old rickshaw driver, Sylvester, has been in the business for eights years now. A popular face among college students and party-hoppers in Koregaon Park and Vimannagar, Sylvester responds to calls from passengers at any given time of the day.
A St Patrick’s alumnus, Sylvester completed his 10th standard and went on to do menial jobs. “I used to work in Telco as a fitter, but gave it up as it was a temporary job. I went on to do odd jobs before taking dad’s rickshaw. On my first day, I earned ₹400. So, it was a good incentive for me to carry on with the job. Honestly, I started enjoying the job after I met interesting passengers. I remember one such day when a a young couple misplaced their wallet and were stranded in Koregaon Park. I dropped them home safely. They remembered my gesture and returned my fare the next day. Such incidents make me happy.”
Sylvester’s dad George beams with pride as he shows the rickshaw. “I bought this a few years ago and had rented it out. Sylvester decided to use it some eight years ago,” said George.
Sylvester doesn’t over charge or demand more money at any point. He also offers discounts and free food to students. Sharing one such experience he said, “Students come to party in Koregaon Park and Vimannagar. They normally dutch for the entry and food. Many a time, they are left with no money while returning home. I am fluent in English and understand their conversation. I offer to help by buying them a Vada Pav or giving them some money. The best part is they call me the next day and return the money. I have never come across any miscreants.”
“I once lost my wallet during a client meeting in Kalyaninagar. I stay in Wadgaon Sheri and knew Sylvester. I called him and he immediately helped me out. I returned the money to him the next day,” said Mayur Phalke, a working professional.
His wife Sheetal added, “He has a lot of loyal women passengers who trust him. He ensures that they are dropped home safely. He sometimes travels from Koregaon Park to Hinjewadi Phase 1 just to drop them safely.”
“I travelled in Sylvester’s autorickshaw once. He is extremely friendly and helpful. He speaks fluently in English and engages in a good conversation. I have seen him help people and ferry them for free too. He was kind enough to ferry me at 12 am from Koregaon Park after an event,” said Payal Chitkote, a student and one of Sylvester’s customers.
“Anthony is one of the only people I’d trust to call for a drop home after midnight. He is kind, trustworthy, and always behaves very professionally. I’ve been his client for almost 8 years now, and would recommend him to anyone who needs a safe ride home at night,” says Divya Desa, a working professional.
Out on duty normally at 7.30 pm, Sylvester is available on call in case of emergencies too. “I never say no. This is my job and I give it my 100 per cent. Eventually, I plan to start my hotel in the city.”