Early Morning Kindness

Posted on July 5, 2010


I got off at the Chennai Central Station at 4.55 this morning. It is supposed to be an all India bandh, declared by the Left and BJP, in protest of the rise in fuel prices. I was really worried that I won’t get transportation to get back home. Anyway, so as I was walking towards the pre-paid auto stands, I saw that it was closed/not yet open.

And then this auto guy approached me. I said “Besant Nagar”, he said “Ok.” I said, “How much?” He said, “Only 200/-” I said, “150 last.” He said, “Ok.” This is not high, believe me. My house is about 15 km from the station. I paid Rs. 129 from the pre-paid stand last time. Plus, this was early morning. I thought it was only fair to give him something extra.

Everything was going along the usual way. But as we got on to the Adyar bridge, the auto guy stopped. It was still dark and not many people were out. It was pretty secluded. Alarm bells started ringing in my head. I told him to move. He said, “Madam, driver, madam. Diesel.” I looked out and saw a man walking with a huge can, filled with what seemed to be diesel. This man came upto the auto and murmured something in Tamil. My auto guy cheerily made place for the second auto guy on his driver’s seat.

We dropped him off just under the flyover. The second auto guy, was taking out money, and my auto guy began protesting. But the second auto guy took out a coin – don’t know whether it was 1 or 2 or 5 – and put it near the steering and left. My auto guy picked up the coin and smiled. I thought he would mock the small amount given to him by the second auto guy.

Instead, he said “Boni.” Boni means the first payment you get for the day. Many daily earners consider it a good omen. My auto guy kissed the coin and put it in his pocket. A song began to play in my head. My day had begun 🙂

Dedicated to the auto guys in Chennai who’ve earned somewhat of a bad name, but always manage to surprise me with their kindness and gentleness every few days.