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Monday, February 8, 2016

heart of gold ~the good samaritan autokaaran

What is your immediate reaction on seeing this photo ~ not so young man, with an old autorickshaw having MGR sticker [nothing about sticker or politics !]

A trip to Chennai would never be complete without an encounter with them……… the ubiquitous three-wheelers painted yellow and called ‘auto-rickshaws’.  Chennai is well connected by road, rail, sea and air.  In the ever bustling metropolis, you have the State Transport Corporation, EMUs, MRTS, vans, call-taxies and more………. and then there is this ‘auto-rickshaw’  - a drive [the peculiar sitting posture of the driver, the cuts and turn-arounds of the vehicle – its capacity to turn at right angles and wade through milling crowds], the language of its drivers, the missing meters and the bargain – can all force mortal fear in you no ends. 

Somehow there is lot of negativism attached to it – most users blame and would immediately tell their tale of woe. If you are a regular reader of Tamil magazines, a decade or more - ‘joke on soodu meter’ hogged the limelight. Those days, auto drivers used to turn on the meter with a twinging sound ~ there were stories of faulty meters [tampering colloquially called ‘soodu’] – which would show much higher that what they should be.. some used to say that it worked on the system of toothed pinion wheels and some abrasion would make it jump thereby increasing it manifold….. now magazines no longer carry such jokes….  Slowly such jokes vanished …. not because system became perfect but because the meters went out of way.  Before one reads any further, it must be admitted that there are some honest and good Samaritans – and the auto-rickshaw drivers are the ones who readily come to help the victims of an accident and many a times seen regulating chaotic traffic. 

Even in case you have a different opinion thus far, it is likely to change after reading this article titled ‘Heart of Gold’ in Indian Express, Chennai edition of date.
A Chennai auto rickshaw driver’s  gesture to a passenger puts to rest all  standard images people have of them. It seemed more like ‘stuff dreams are made of’. K Ravichandran (48)  was taking a passenger from Bengal –  he does not remember the exact date – probably a couple of months ago.  A passenger, aged about 57 years boarded my vehicle from Ramapuram to go to a mansion in Triplicane. When we were moving along Mount road, I heard and saw him wailing in pain, holding his chest. I took him to a nearby clinic,” the auto driver from Old Washermanpet, he recalls.
How would a driver remember one from the innumerable passengers travelling in his auto ? ~ but this ride changed the life of that man … and as the Indian Express reports that on Sunday, the auto driver  Ravichandran along with 16 other auto rickshaw drivers, including three women, were rewarded for their good samaritan deeds by the Anna Auto Welfare Trust, the organisation which works to motivate autorickshaw drivers.
The man who travelled in Ravi’s auto had chest pains – Ravi took him to a private hospital. The elderly passenger was subsequently referred to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital where doctors, after tests said the patient required immediate attention. “They said that there were three blocks in the blood vessels on his heart and a pace-maker had to be placed immediately.”  The good Samaritan Ravichandran contacted the son of the passenger who arrived from Kolkatta that night by flight.  Meantime, Ravi putting aside his all other works,  ensured immediate treatment.  The cost of treatment and the pace maker, which was about Rs 1 lakh was reduced to Rs 47,000 after he persuaded the Dean.
More drama was to follow ~ the son of the passenger  had only Rs.15,000 after spending on the flight tickets and they were not affluent.  Nonplussed Ravichandran took a step, which perhaps none of us would dare to take. … he pledged the only property – the auto rickshaw, and paid the balance for the treatment.  Anil Khicha, founder of the Anna Auto Trust said people who came from other states to Chennai first met autorickshaw drivers; and their behaviour towards the passengers created a general impression about the city. “When this kind of good work they do are appreciated, it will be a boost to them to do better. This Trust was formed with such an idea,” Anil added.
Ravichandran is rare gem and honouring him is only recognition of good people in the Society.  Not sure of what was paid ~ whether he got back the amount and could have his vehicle released are not written on the paper.  One only hopes that there was some such measure and Ravi is now riding his own auto.  Hearty appreciations to the man appearing in the photo.  Salutes Sir.
With regards – S. Sampathkumar


  1. Good samaritan such as this man should really be honored for the good deed that he has done. If he had not rushed his passenger from the hospital, he might have been killed and not save. This is really a very inspiring story just like the ones I read via reviews.

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