“Being an auto-driver for over 2 decades now, I’ve seen the city grow and evolve from strength to strength. And Chennai today is unlike what it was like in the 90s. Despite the technological boom, some facets were better, I believe, back in the day. Whether it was the clean flow of the Koovam river, a plethora of greenery throughout and just the lack of concrete everywhere there was a quiet charm that ruled the land.
Even professionally, the times were substantially different back then. With more public transportation, autorickshaws thrived as a dominant means of conveyance for those who wanted a quick run or the luxury of traveling individually. Since cars were hardly owned by any, these factors positioned the industry as favourable career option for people like me who weren’t lucky enough to receive an education.
You see, my family hails from Tanjavur where we once had sufficient land to yield us a comfortable life. I remember being as young as Eleven when I joined my father for his agricultural chores. Our paddy fields blossomed with produce for years, until the lack thereof changed our fates forever. With a dearth of rains for three years continuously, we were pushed back into the clutches of poverty that we had worked so hard to escape, for generations.
Education too had to come to a halt and I had to look out for other means to put food on the table. Naturally, as a young adult, Chennai seemed lucrative enough to work my way up from scratch. So without a second thought, I rushed here and took up a variety of odd jobs, including carrying gunny bags, distributing flyers, and even cleaning toilets. The grind went on for years before I could save enough to lease an auto-rickshaw.
And what a relief it was! The feeling of finally being able to earn on my own is something that can’t ever be matched! So with that start, it’s been a little over 26 years today, in this field. Scenarios have changed and driving is highly unfavorable in today’s times, especially with the influx of many apps, but I’ll always be grateful to my little vehicle here, for it held my life together despite times of despair.
What I look forward to now, for my sons to get into the fields they like while I adapt to new technology, that can anchor my family to the next level!”