This inspiration runs on three wheels

Satyanarayan Iyer Mumbai | Updated on January 03, 2014

For a cool ride, take Deepak Shewale’s autorickshaw

It was the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai five years ago that was the starting point for Deepak Shewale to jazz up his autorickshaw.

A few days after the bloodbath, Shewale was moved when he noticed another autorickshaw with pictures of the brave men who died in the carnage.

The transformation

The images of these people kept playing on his mind. Mujhe bahut achaa laga. Maine socha, agar yeh auto wala aisa kuch kar sakta hain...toh main kyun nahi (I felt very good. I thought if that auto driver could do something like this, why not I?), he told this writer.

This was the beginning of Shewale’s new journey. What began as a small collection of pictures of Indian revolutionaries has since evolved into a complete makeover of his vehicle.

The autorickshaw’s interiors have posters discussing ways to combat global warming, which Shewale says, are lessons learnt after watching programmes on Discovery and National Geographic.

There are also emergency numbers for the police, hospital and fire service, and of course a medical kit. He even provides a mobile recharge for Rs 30 to passengers.

Being stuck in Mumbai’s unpredictable traffic isn’t the happiest experience. Keeping this in mind, Shewale offers passengers a choice of three newspapers, as well as a lifestyle magazine. A small fan helps beat the heat while two speakers pipe in music. A theft forced Shewale to replace the small TV inside the vehicle with a tablet PC. Not only does it give him time to surf videos and pictures during a break, but the Google maps come in handy during a long ride in unfamiliar territory.

Pehle main logon ki madat karna chahta tha, ab yeh meri hobby ban chuki hain (I wanted to help people first, now this has become my hobby),” he says. Shewale’s autorickshaw has also created space for carrying inspiring slogans. Ghusa woh cheez hain, jo dursre ki galti ki saza tum khud ko dete ho (Anger is a punishment you give yourself for others’ mistake) is one of these.

Give and take respect

And his passengers have also done their bit in livening up the interiors. For instance, the maxim, ‘Respect is commanded, not demanded’ has replaced ‘Give respect, take respect,’ on the suggestion of someone to get that “extra impact.”

Shewale’s mobile number and email id are emblazoned on all the three sides of the vehicle. Inside, there is a clear message that he only drives from 9 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Published on January 03, 2014

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