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Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Saurabh was one of the twelve autorickshaw drivers between Telinagar and Vyparpur. It wasn’t a busy route, like most routes on the outskirts of a city. So, consequently, the pay from the fares wasn’t much either. Most days he would get around six hundred to eight hundred rupees. On the weekends, however, the figure could be as low as four hundred. However, he was a prominent figure among the autowalas, a leader of sorts.

They did not officially have a union, but, he was sure that if they got one someday, he could become its head.

Saurabh’s auto was easily noticeable. It was glossy and had thick padded seats, unlike the other auto with rusty, withered frames and torn seats. He also had a tiny fan that kept him cool in the searing heat in the afternoon. After months of weighing the pros and cons, he had also gotten himself a music system to fight the boredom of having to constantly drive all day. But, above all, his auto’s main feature was a two-foot wide photo of a Mercedes at the back. He didn’t know what model the car was, but he loved it the moment he saw it. It wasn’t costly, but, on his route, it was unique. While most drivers would put up an advertisement or a political hoarding, he was the only one who had chosen to put on a show of luxury of such kind.

When he saw the poster, all he could think of was cleanliness and class, two things he had always loved to maintain. He felt it was well-suited to his own clean and well-maintained vehicle. His wife hadn’t really said much about it. It was a poster after all and not that big an investment. With the degree of excitement he had expressed, she probably didn’t have the heart to object either.

His auto was his prized possession. He liked doing his job well, therefore caring for his autorickshaw was naturally a part of it. The accessories, the tidiness, the poster – all fit into his chosen way of life. He was not extravagant in nature. Other than those low-cost modifications to his auto, he had always lived within his means.

Neither he nor his wife were ambitious people. They were realists. They did not expect to become rich someday. They just hoped to provide enough for their kids so they could grow up into the officewalas Saurabh carried every day. So, they took solace in these small indulgences when they could and made sure to spend most of their income to send their children to school.

"Live simply that others might simply live." -Elizabeth Seaton
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