A few days back days back Macabreday’s band, Rusty Moe was playing in the city and I was supposed to reach by 8. I was already half an hour late and auto guys were refusing to take me to Kyra despite me offering them double the usual rate at 8:30pm. Unbelievable no?
That being the case, I decided to walk rather than waste time on autorickshawbots. As I walked, I saw an auto guy buying some vegetables from an old vegetable vendor. He was selling vegetables from a push cart which was as old as him. HIs clothes were faded and wrinkled much like his face. A towel tied around his head like a turban hid his baldness and next to his stood the auto guy, wearing a smart neatly pressed shirt and well combed hair. He saw me, saw my quizzical look and popped the big question. “Saar, auto saar?” They think people fall for the repetitive ‘saar’ call, what he doesn’t realise is that people are desperate for an auto that will take them to their destination that the saar call doesn’t make a difference at all.
I replied with a nod and asked him if he would take me to Indiranagar flyover. Remember it’s only minimum charge from my house, but he wanted Rs25 and I was desperate. I agreed.
He told me to sit in the auto till he finished buying vegetables. As I got in, I heard him arguing with the old vendor. Turns out, the old man gave him a bill of Rs22, but he was ready to pay only 20. What a hypocrite; I thought and I would have left it at that if not for what followed.
The old man took off his towel, he said he was begging and asked him to please give him two rupees more. He was on his knees now and the auto guy still wouldn’t budge. After five minutes of pleading, he reluctantly gave away two rupees and cribbed about it as he started the auto.
Now I wanted to teach this guy a lesson, I am not the vengeful kind, but what he did back there really broke my heart. So as soon as we reached our destination, I gave him exactly two rupees short — Rs23. He looked confused then I told him that I did not have change and that, that’s all I had. I could not find the desperation of the old man in his eyes, all I could see was arrogance. He rolled up his sleeves and started telling me about our verbal agreement that I would pay him Rs25. I stuck to my line — that’s all I have.
He was starting to crack now, he still wasn’t desperate, but frustrated. He looked like the kind who would have given me a thrashing if it was an isolated place. But I was in Indiranagar, there were vehicles flying past, people staring at the commotion and he just didn’t know what to do.
Then I did what I had to do, “You want two rupee more right?” I said. “Yes”, he replied. “Then listen carefully, start respecting people, because you be mean to someone it comes back to you some point of life or the other, here’s your two rupee (drops it to the ground and it rolls under the auto). Take it if you want, but shame on you for behaving like that with such an old man who is just trying to make a living. How long will you go about cheating people like this, what do earn by doing all this? Do you think you will have a happy life? No, it will be miserable because people will curse you and curse you, and will do so, till you change you ways.”
I said this and just walked off from the spot, last I looked at him, he was staring in my direction in disbelief. I did not look again, I don’t know if he picked up that coin form the floor, I don’t know if he changed his ways, but I hope he did. The worst part, I am happy I told him whatever I did, but I am not sure if it was right thing to do.