Travel story with an Auto-rickshaw : Beyond religion, status and money !
In all of my stories, there is one constant person along with me, an auto-rickshaw driver of the city.
I always prefer an auto-rickshaw over a cab whenever I travel to any place.
An auto-rickshaw driver is a local man who is well connected to his city, the roads, people, culture and practices. He guides you well about the stories of the place. Its like whenever you board a cab you will enjoy the fragrance of any car perfume (godrej, ambi pur ) in each and every new place, whether you go to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Bhopal.
But when you board a auto-rickshaw, you can feel the essence of the place. The fragrance of the food, the sound of ferry wala’s and shop keeper’s, and the music of people talking to each other.
Its like, seher aapko apni kaahani khud bayan kar raha ho.
So, today I will tell you the story of auto-rickshaw driver Mr. Ali who was a part of my Udaipur story. The story revolves around 4 people, my friend Animesh, Shivkant, me and our auto-rickshaw driver Ali.
We went to Udaipur for 2 days, we started our journey from Bhopal by train. From starting our journey became adventurous which I will share some other time. We reached Udaipur at 4 a.m in the morning. Unlike other city station the station of Udaipur was very silent. There were only few people to receive their guests.
It was the first time when we were visiting the city, so it was little strange for us to identify the modes of transport. Then I saw an auto-rickshaw, I aksed him, Bhaiya Chaloge??
He without any delay came closer and said Haa Bhai le jaane k liye hi toh khara hun ( yes, I am here to drop to your destination).
Then he asked where you will go; We mentioned the name of our hotel Kahori Haveli.
He asked for Rs 350.
I checked for the distance, it was 4.2 k.m I told him Rs. 300 for just 4 k.m, and asked why he is charging so high.
Night charges, he said.
Then my friend asked me, lets not waste any time and take the auto.
We reached our hotel, thereafter we decided to take some rest and wait for the morning for exploring the city.
It was 9:30 a.m in morning we stepped out from our hotel to explore the city. I have shared few blogs on Udaipur which you can read visiting my blog page: https://travelandfoodstories.com/blog/
Guys, while travelling we noticed, each spot of the city is within 2-4 k.m radius but the moment you book a auto-rickshaw they ask for Rs. 150 as like they have made a standard rate for the tourist.
So, we gave nearly Rs. 1000 till evening.
So after exploring the various spots, we decided to go and enjoy some good food and time.
So we were waiting for an auto-rickshaw in front of our hotel. Just like from morning auto-rickshaw came and asked for Rs. 200 . Listening to this, I got irritated and told him Bhai I will prefer walking as we are travelers and we cant waste our money for the sake of some union against the tourist.
When I was shouting, another auto-rickshaw was near by, seeing and listening to this he came near us and asked Bhai Kaha Jana Hai (where you want to go?), I prompted Bhai kahi nahi jana hai (we don’t want to go anywhere). Then my friend asked me to chill and he said the name of the restaurant to him.
He then mentioned, ohh this is within 3 k.m and asked us to give Rs. 30.
Getting the quote from him, we decided to step up to his auto.
When we checked in- he asked us about our name and the place we belong from.
After telling our names, I asked him about his name. He said his name is Ali and he is a local resident living in the city from more than 40 years.
While in road to the restaurant, he was talking about the ill practices of auto-drivers of charging high, he added the ill-practices of few hamper the image of our people and city.
By then, we reached our restaurant, we gave him the money. Then he said Bhai till what time you will be at this place.
I told him, we will stay for 2-3 hours uptill 11 p.m or so, he said he will come by 11 p.m and will drop us back to hotel.
We did not mind and we went inside our hotel.
We enjoyed some good Rajasthani food with glass of booze.
So around, 11 p.m we stepped out and we were surprised to see the Ali waiting for us to drove back to hotel.
I thought this time he want to charge us more as it was night time and he will take advantage of the timing.
I asked for the charge, he said for Rs. 40.
While dropping us, in the middle he asked for our next days plan. We mentioned him our wish to explore our remaining spots.
He then asked us, if we desire we can book him for whole day.
That was a good idea as we will get a local guide and vehicle. I asked for the money, he said don’t worry, I will ask for the genuine rates.
Anyway we were too high and tired, so we said Ok and rest we can discuss tomorrow.
Next day 9 in the morning he was right there at our lobby.
After checking out, we boarded the auto, there after we started a conversation.
Ali bhai then asked to us visit the Sajjangarh Monsoon Palace at the beginning as it is at hill top and will take the maximum time.
We agreed for the same.
We reached at the gate, and the visit to palace will take 2-3 hours so I was concerned for our luggage. So i clicked the photo of the number plate of the auto.
Looking to this, he laughed and said me Abhijeet, you are young like my son and I cant run away and steal your luggage. So do not worry. Still you can take my information for your safety.
Listening to him, i got embarrassed but was worried at the same time.
We were up there at Palace for 2-3 hours.
Reaching back to the entrance, Ali Bhai was waiting for us at the same place.
Thereafter he took us to many spots.
There after one incident which embarrassed us and opened our eyes towards humanity for the life time.
Meanwhile exploring the city, we were enjoying our moment, spots and food. We also were also exchanging few words with him (Ali).
He suddenly took out a lunch box, and offered a churma laddoo. At the first instance we said no, but then when he insisted we had to take one.
Thereafter we were looking at each other and kept the laddoo in our hands, thinking of that it might be a trap ( wo bolte hain na ki apki soch hi galat ho toh apko har chiz main shak hota hai) but then it was obvious as you hear such incident very often.
So, for a very long time, we kept the ladoo in our hands, after a while Ali bhai told us ki brother’s please don’t throw the ladoo’s as its hard work of my daughter.
Hearing to this, we got numb, he was watching us from his rear view mirror.
We did not understand, what to say then i said ki bhaiya we are full due to our lunch so we will eat after a while.
He said, khane k baad meetha khana chaiye, or aap bole aapko khana pasand hai jabi toh diya main aapko.
His words, made us numb and embarrassed. There after we were silent.
Now it was 5 in evening, we had to board our Bhopal train from Chittorgarh , so we asked him to drop us to taxi stand.
We reached to taxi stand, there also he himself bargained for us for reasonable rates.
While off-boarding from auto, we asked for the money, we were convinced that he will ask for Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1500.
He then, before asking his money he said, “इंसानियत कभी नहीं मरती, मानव के अंदर का वो इंसान ही मर जाता हैं, जो इंसानियत को कायम रखता हैं “
It’s not your fault my dear, its like the humanity has died in this earth, so we have forgotten to believe at each other.
Anyways you all are like age of my son who is living out for his studies, he also struggle for money like you, so I try to help people in the thought, if I don’t good to others, how can I expect from people to help my child. SO you people give me just Rs. 500 for the whole day, Rs. 400 for the price of petrol and Rs. 100 for my hardship.
And again I am asking you, if you don’t like to eat ladoo, please do not throw it, please return me back.
His whole words, made us numb again, trust me I got emotional tough i controlled my tears but it was not less than that.
Then we said, nahi Ali bhaiya, we will eat your ladoo’s as it is a token of love and message for humanity.
We gave him his money, said him meet again if we come and boarded our cab.
While our drive to Chittorgarh, we remained silent looking outside the at the roads.
I started eating the ladoo, it was a traditional choorma ladoo but it tasted different from what I have eaten earlier as it had the sweetness of love, for me it was not choorma ladoo, I named it as a Insaniyat ladoo.
I don’t know about my friends but this Udaipur travel changed my perception of looking towards the people.
Friends this is what traveling is, this is the magic of traveling. Its like every time you travel you add a new version to your life.
and so I always say, whenever I travel: Ek adha khud ko chor aata hun, or ek pura saath le aata hun.