By Mayank Jain:
We all come across auto rickshaw drivers whose behaviour often borders on rudeness, when all we want is to just hire an auto. Regardless, auto rickshaws, especially CNG-powered ones, have proven to be a boon for both, the owners as well as the city, as they are cheaper to run and safer for the ecology.
An auto driver in Chennai has gotten popular through social media when the word spread about his shared auto which comes loaded with WiFi, magazines, a tablet to surf the internet, as well as a first aid kit, a music system and a regular contest where you can win prize money by answering five questions correctly.
Say hello to ‘Amazing Auto‘, a service by Annadurai, which has received popularity in more than 30 countries as people from all over the world call him up and inquire about his well-being. The way he manages his auto service is one of the best examples of caring about customer satisfaction. Completely focused on pleasing his customers, Annadurai is in the profession for the love he receives from people, and his own desire to make the world a better place.
“Money is just a paper which smells like sweat,” he offers a tongue-in-cheek comment about his pecuniary problems. But lack of money has never brought him down. He dreams of plying in Delhi and wants to serve customers instead of ‘doing a business’.
Discover how a person with good intentions and a task at hand can start changing the world, one ride at a time, and inspire millions in the process.
Mayank Jain (MJ): Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Annadurai (AD): I don’t have much background to write or talk about. I am all that you can see. Still, I’d like to highlight the fact that I’m a high school dropout. And that shouldn’t become a motivation for you to leave studies.
MJ: How was this super auto born? Was it planned or you improved as you moved ahead?
AD: It was definitely not planned. One thing got me to the next one… I was driving Tata Magic initially and I used to grow actual live plants in the same, along with some magazines, portable TV and mobile charging adapters. Then, my parents sold it and bought me this auto thinking that their actions would stop my madness. They were terribly wrong. In your own words, the ‘super auto’ was hence, born.
MJ: A lot of people speak of it as a prime example of a superior product for the same price. What’s your motive for running this fabulous service?
AD: That is one among those many questions I feel difficult to answer. I never felt the need to know what made me do this, nor was I thinking about it when I was doing it. I had a motive. It was just another usual day, I was riding my auto and a customer came in, who was bleeding from his head. He said that it was because he hit his head on a pole. He was all by himself and I felt really bad for not having a first aid kit at my disposal. It might not have been a big deal for him, but for me, it was. There were a lot of similar circumstances in which I was placed fortunately, which motivated me not to sulk.
As this service got bigger, expectations also rose. People would wait for hours just so that they could ride in my auto. Those expectations were my biggest motivations to not stop and keep moving forward. There had been times when I was not able to pay my WiFi bills and I had no money to buy magazines. At such times, I don’t take my auto out for a ride so as to not disappoint my customers. They were my motivation and will always continue to be.
AD: You can see there has been a lot of improvement for the past decade, at least in technologies. I am planning on launching an application which will let you know where I’m driving at a given time so that if you wanted a ride, you can logically decide whether to wait or not. I have also heard that India imports lots of garbage to metropolitan cities stating that we’ll generate electricity out of it. What is happening with this residue? Money has blinded our right eye and we are soon moving on to the left.
MJ: You have also taken to Facebook these days. There was a video that became popular over the Internet. How have people responded to your idea?
AD: Yeah. I’m very thankful to that one video which was made by my friend Trisha Mahajan from Delhi, who apparently thought what I did was worth sharing. One followed the other and there were a lot of news channels covering my auto. Most of the recipients have been kind, and the rest, kinder in their own ways.
MJ: You’re probably the only auto rickshaw driver India knows so well. Has your life changed in any way after you became popular over the Internet?
AD: I am not sure about that. There is another guy from you-know-where who is equally well-known like me. My life has been the same as it was before. I’m not that popular here. I still have to pay for my gas.
MJ: Being in Delhi, I crave to travel in your auto. Is there a possibility that you’d extend the fleet in future?
AD: Extending the fleet would mean that I’m intending to ‘do business’. I concentrate completely on providing services and building an aware and interactive society. Yes, I have plans of coming to Delhi soon. I have been asking my friends to help me get a place to stay, and a job to carry on till I get to know the city well. I will be riding there very soon. But this time, I am planning to do some awareness programmes alongside. I have ideas, just not the circumstances yet.
MJ: Please tell us about the hardships you faced while managing profit and superior service?
AD: Money was always the bitter fruit in my plate. But I have never let myself down because of that. After all, it’s just a paper that smells like sweat. Mentally, I have faced quite some hindrances. There was a post on Facebook about me once and someone had commented on it that I was a joker seeking for attention, and that I have a lot of properties to burn, and I do this for fun. There are more from where that came from. But I believe in what I do and I don’t usually stop to let myself feel bad about this.
To know more about this story and what I think, follow me on Twitter: @mayank1029