Sandeep Bachhe is an autorickshaw driver in Mumbai. More of him later, but first let me take you through his wonderful autorickshaw. It has a television set tuned to good old Doordarshan which incidentally is celebrating 50 years of transmission in India. Then there is also a board with the day’s price of gold, silver, dollar, pound and the yen.
Behind the driver’s seat hangs another chart with phone numbers of hospitals, theatres, hotels and airlines. You can also pick up the day’s papers and a couple of magazines in the rack behind him. ‘Do not spit,’ another notice admonishes you. There are pictures of Gods from all major religions. “All are welcome,” he says with a smile.
Of course, you can’t have it all, even Bacche’s wonder auto has some limitations — ‘No toilet available,’ says another sign and Sandeep, 35, explains, “Some college girls got in and told me, ‘You have everything where is the toilet?’ and so I put this sign up.”
The signboards continue, and there is one that says, ‘Donate for old people’ with his mobile number below. Sandeep gives whatever he can spare to an old age home. He also collects money from like-minded auto drivers to distribute notebooks among slum children.
He points out four other auto drivers to me who had each given Rs 500 the week before to distribute books to needy children.
Sandeep also gives free rides of up to Rs 50 to people who are blind and gives a 25 per cent discount to the physically challenged. He gets a physically disabled customer about once a month.