Kindness on wheels

pic by: Hari B Kurup

Rajshree shares another beautiful moment with Uday Bhai, our Ahmedabad Nu Rickshawala. Also here’s another story about Akshay Patra from her.

A new day has come- Ahmedabad- 18th april 2011.
This is the first day of my new beginning. No idea what is in store for me. First time I have no clue regarding what to do next. No plans, no ideas, no time limits…..nothing. it sounds scary for a person who has worked all her life. Honestly iam excited. Excited to start a new future absolutely fresh and clean and pure. Iam ready to explore myself further, ready to explore the world, ready to explore the future……
• Uday bhai- the minute I get off the plane, I got in touch with uday bhai. He has come to receive me in his phenomenal innovative service rickshaw. Lets talk about uday bhai first. He was weaing a Gandhi topi, khadi kurta, and a jhola on his shoulders. The minute he spotted me, he welcomed me with a badge which had broom as its symbol. He told me rajshree ben…..this is in the memory of ishwar kaka. And then starts the beautiful journey in his service rickshaw. For the first 15 mins of my rickshaw ride, I did not look out of the rickshaw. Well why? Take a guess, uday bhai’s rickshaw is a service concept by itself. Amdavad no rickshawwalo is the name he has given to himself. Every part of the exterior has some strong message like….life is a journey, not a destination.
So now, lets look inside the rickshaw. Behind the seat are two boxes, one is called ‘seva’ and the other is called ‘prem’. Lovely snacks and chocolates are stored in ‘seva’. Uday bhai gives this to all his customers in case they get hungry. ‘prem’ has bottles of mineral water which quenches the thirst of tired visitors. Ofcourse, this is all with the idea of ‘seva’. When u sit in the rickshaw, your eyes first see the panel ahead. Hey man…..there is a library here. This library has all the possible inspirational books like…..100 ways to be the change. It also has gujrat guide and Ahmedabad guide. You can read them and learn about amdavad while you are travelling in our little ‘service rickshaw. At the signal, when you are just slightly uncomfortable due to heat, uday bhai switches on the fans overhead. Magic. Hahaha….. What else? He also has a light for his customers who want to read while they are travelling at night. Well, if this is not enough, he has a music system through which he plays the bhajans, Bollywood songs etc. on his left side, he has a small recycled bottle of akshay patra . He says the first earnings of the day are put in that. When this bottle gets full, he empties it and buys something for the poor. Imagine! he considers himself to be a very a privileged person on whom god has been very kind. Wow!
Once I finish looking into everything and just about soaking in everything about this ‘service rickshaw’ and about our very own amdavad no rickshaw walo, there starts the fantastic stories of uday bhai. He tell me how he gives chocolates to every child who sits in his rickshaw and ofcourse no charges for very old and weak, handicapped or pregnant women. He rambles about how he has become a mubola son to an old poor widow and a brother to her daughter. They call him everytime they want to go anywhere and he never charges them. How there was a young college going boy who had come from delhi. He was so thrilled when he sat in uday bhai’s rickshaw that he couldn’t stop singing and dancing and hugging uday bhai. I also heard his radio interview where he spoke about his rickshaw and the idea of service. Man, I was floored by this innovative simple social entrepreneur.
Once I reached jayesh bhai’s house, I asked uday bhai… much do I have to pay? Uday bhai just gave me an envelope saying…… its upto you. pay it forward concept, seva café concept……you pay whatever you want and seal the envelope. I ask him what if someone doesn’t pay….he says….thats ok ben, maybe he is unable to give. This much trust, this much faith in god and human kind…..that too from a simple rickshawallah? It was difficult for me to digest this fact. I asked him…..uday bhai….have people insisted to pay by meter only. He replied…yes ben, they have. I explain my concept to them the minute they sit in the rickshaw, if they insist that they want to pay by meter, then I do switch on the meter for them.. In the rickshaw they see the unbelievable interiors and thanx to uday bhai’s connection with each and every passenger, by the time they reach their destination, they have had a ‘hriday parivartan’ and have just paid by the ‘seva concept’. Uday bhai further informs that he has never haggled or argued over money. In his words….be chaar rupya man koi ameer ke koi gareeb nathi thatu. This is the power of belief, this is the power of service.
Next two days, everywhere I travelled, I had uday bhai take me around. The last day we had lunch together and he shared a glimpse of his personal life.. He stays with his parents who are old , his wife and 3 boys. He also has his sister whom he brought back from her husband’s house because uday bhai himself by chance saw the physical abuse given to his sis. His sister has a son, who is now 23 yrs of age and is working. Uday bhai says…..he is very happy, god has been very kind to him. He feels he is very blessed and lucky. Now all he wants is to continue his act of service, educate his sons and be an example to other rickshawallahs.
For me, uday bhai was symbolic to my new beginning. If you want to pursue something, who you are, what you are, where u r….does not matter. Just follow your passion and then the entire world is in front of you. Never limit yourself, never limit your capability. If you believe in something and you believe it strongly…..than the entire universe will make it happen. Right alchemist? Thank you uday bhai for teaching me the first lesson on my new day and man…..what a powerful lesson it was.

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