Category Archives: Commuting

Why do auto drivers keep going on strike?

By | Autos, Commuting | No Comments
Pic courtesy Karnataka Photo News

Pic courtesy Karnataka Photo News

Every time there’s a price increase in the government mandated auto rickshaw meter, the middle class daggers invariably come out. When the auto unions exhort the drivers to go on a strike (most recently when the LPG prices were raised by Rs. 11/liter), the daggers get sharper.

Someone posted the following on Facebook

There is some fundamental issue with autos in Bangalore. The fares are higher than Bombay Delhi Pune. My sense is that the standard taxi fare in Bombay is lower than the auto fare in Bangalore. Yet the attitude sucks n they are going on strike ? What’s up?

After a friend tagged me on the discussion, I responded with the following..

On Sun we were at a favorite lunch spot, the manager alerted us that they’ll be raising prices soon due to the upcoming hike in LPG prices. This brings us to point #1.

  1. A commercial establishment can raise prices in response to rising costs; auto rickshaw rates are set by the govt/RTA so all they can do is protest/lobby.
  2. The recent fare hike (Rs. 25 minimum and 13/km) tips Bangalore past Chennai (at 12/km).
  3. Most people paint the entire auto rick community with a broad brush but we believe that at least 25-30% of the 1.5+ lakh auto drivers go on meter, are polite decent folk (and we are working to onboard them into the mGaadi network).
  4. Most of the time when an auto driver refuses a trip, it’s because he has his own heuristics (which areas he knows, which trip will get him an easy follow-on trip without incurring ‘dead miles’, etc.). In short, heuristics for daily income determinism.
  5. When a drivers asks, say Rs. 30, extra during rush hour in a traffic snarl, he’s trying to compensate for the reduced income/hour. Contrast this with Olacabs’ rush hour surcharge or Uber’s hybrid pricing of “Rs 2 per min” on top of the basic “Rs 18/km”. As commercial operators, Ola and Uber can legitimately adopt this kind of pricing whereas the RTA-mandated auto drivers cannot.

 

Reforming Bangalore’s Public Transport

By | Buses, Commuting | No Comments

Karthik (Resident Quant at Takshashila Institution and Bangalore denizen) does a structured rant on what’s wrong with Bangalore’s bus infrastructure and how it could be fixed. He then storied his tweets and shared on Facebook where it was picked up by a mutual friend and showed up in my newsfeed and.. of course I HAD to share it on the mGaadi blog. You know.. just your garden variety sharing and amplification at work. Some interesting ideas in here so do browse all the way to the end.

Extended mGaadi hours for New Year Eve

By | Autos, Commuting | No Comments

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.

Pic courtesy hdwallpapersinn.com

Pic courtesy hdwallpapersinn.com

If you or your friends plan to party hard (or late) and you don’t have a sober friend/chauffeur to drive you home, fret not.

The good drivers in the mGaadi network are doing their bit to give you (Bangalore New Year revelers) another option. At least 10% of mGaadi network drivers have confirmed that they will be working late on New Year eve.

mGaadi’s Call Auto service line (080 6768 4983), normally open from 8 am to 10 pm, will have extended hours for Dec 31, 2013, i.e. until 2 am of Jan 1, 2014.

Alternatively, you can also schedule a pickup using the mGaadi Android app.

Happy New Year in advance!

 

Fix the Potholes in Bangalore

By | Commuting | 2 Comments

[Editor’s Note: There are a whole range of companies (large and small, local and international) trying to alleviate the pain of the urban Indian commuter. Whether it’s taxi fleets, taxi aggregators, micro car rentals or companies like us trying to bring transparency and efficiencies to the auto rickshaw segment, all rely on one common infrastructure. The roads. Embarrassing no? Public infrastructure that’s taken for granted in practically any part of the world. Appallingly bad would be a flattering description for Bangalore roads. Among the six Indian metros, Bangalore would win the “worst roads” title by a hefty margin. There’s nothing any of the aforementioned companies can do to improve the roads. Is there anything YOU (Bangalore resident) can do? Ashoka India’s Sunish Jauhari believes you can. Sign the Change.org petition and you make his hand stronger when he goes to meet the Commissioner of BBMP. At publishing time, the petition had 18,195 signatures.. only 6,800 to hit the 25,000 magic mark. Read on and do the needful.]

Pic courtesy deccanchronicle.com

Pic courtesy deccanchronicle.com

Roads in Bangalore are terrible. Bangaloreans are getting together to demand pothole-free roads and we have 17,000 signatures already.

Last week I met the officials at BBMP and asked them about the progress in fixing the potholes. Shockingly, they only told me that BBMP has no resources to fix the roads.

This is unacceptable! Roads are a huge problem in the city and the BBMP needs to be accountable for them.

Next week, I will meet the Commissioner of BBMP, Lakshmi Narayana and deliver my petition with all your signatures. I’ve also contacted several experts and we will be taking some suggestions with us too.

We need to show him the potholes is a serious problem and we want them to fix it immediately. BBMP will have to listen to us if we can get more numbers of my petition.

Help me reach 25,000 signatures before my meeting. Vishy, here is how you can help.

  1. Forward this email to your friends asking them to sign it.
  2. Share this petition on Facebook and Twitter.

If you have not shared my petition widely yet, please do so and get your friends and friends.

Thank you for taking action for good roads in Bangalore.

Sunish via Change.org

A portrait in human commuting pain

By | Commuting, Research | No Comments

[Editor’s Note: A Facebook thread on auto rickshaw drivers in Bangalore, commuting in urban cities, and a carrot vs. stick policy led to this interesting commuting survey conducted by IBM in 2011. Thanks Sridhar Pabbisetty. Two of the 20 cities surveyed are Bangalore and New Delhi. I’ve cherry-picked the most interesting insights with a bias towards what Indian commuters are saying.]

8000+ survey respondents in 20 cities across six continents. The following 20 cities (which figure in the  world’s  top 65  in terms  of size and economic activity) are:

  • Asian cities: Bangalore,  Beijing, Moscow, New Delhi, Shenzhen, Singapore
  • European cities: London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Stockholm
  • North/South American cities: Buenos Aires, Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Montreal, New York City, Toronto
  • African cities: Johannesburg, Nairobi

At the extremities..

Mexico City showed up as the ‘most painful’ city for commuting, while Montreal, London, and Chicago came out the ‘best’.

Consider some of the extremes: In Nairobi, 35% of drivers reported that they have spent three hours or more in traffic, and in Moscow, over 45%. In Beijing and Shenzhen, anger from traffic is by far the highest among the cities surveyed, while in New Delhi, Shenzen and Beijing, huge numbers of drivers have simply turned around and gone home rather dealing with the frustration of their intended journey.

Surprise surprise! driving is the predominant way to commute..

Across cities, driving is the predominant way to get to work or school (55% drive a car, 5% a motorbike, and 5% carpool on a worldwide average), with public transportation ranking a distant second (13% use the bus, 7% a train).

For all of the cities, the average one-­way length of the commute is 12.8 miles, taking about 33 minutes – meaning they are traveling a little over 23 miles per hour, a pace most would probably consider frustratingly ‘leisurely.’ American respondents (New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles), as well as inhabitants of Johannesburg, have the most miles to go (15+), while those in Mexico City, Moscow, Bangalore, Beijing, and Africa (Nairobi and Johannesburg) spend the most time (close to 40 minutes, on average) on the road to get to their workplace or school.

Can you believe Bangalore and New Delhi commuters are claiming “improvement”??? New Delhi’s metro a definite contributor.

Forty-­one percent of the respondents overall believe that traffic has worsened over the last three years in the areas where they commute, while, by contrast, 34% believe it has improved. Bangalore, New Delhi, Beijing, and Shenzhen showed the highest percentage of people claiming improvement, while Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Paris, Milan, Moscow, and Johannesburg showed the highest percentage reporting decline. The large investments in transportation infrastructure in China and India could explain the improvements there.

Only New Delhi, Beijing, and Shenzhen commuters indicated that, net, traffic had become significantly better. And, in those cities, the results were resoundingly better: the improvement out-­‐stripped the negative by 30% or more. Clearly, in some very-­high‐traffic cities, some efforts to fix traffic are paying off.

Stop-and-start Traffic – does ANYONE love it?

Traffic comes in all forms, none of it pleasant, but stop-­and-­start traffic is considered the worst part of the commute (51%), followed by an unreliable journey time (31%), low speed (28%), and rude or aggressive drivers (27%). Only 11% say there is nothing to complain about. Further on this score, some local differences surfaced. Drivers in Los Angeles, Mexico City, India, China, Singapore, and Johannesburg seem to be particularly vexed with the stop-­and-start rhythm.

Stress and commuting – an obvious correlation!

The survey also looked at whether traffic had any subjective negative effects on respondents’ health. Forty-­two percent declared their stress level had increased; 35% reported more anger; 16% percent each, respiratory problems and less sleep; and 13% claimed to have been involved in some sort of traffic-­related accident.

Stress from driving is notably high in Mexico City, Milan, Bangalore, and Johannesburg (over 50% of respondents in these cities reported it). Respiratory difficulties arose most often in Bangalore, New Delhi, Beijing, and Shenzhen. Drivers in Moscow, India, China, and Singapore were the angriest about traffic congestion, while those in Milan, India, China, and Singapore suffered health‐affecting traffic accidents more than in other cities.

What commuters want – public transportation and more timely information

25% of respondents said they would greatly appreciate more-­‐accurate, more-­‐timely information about road conditions, and 20% would prize the option to work at home. These are, of course, possibilities that technology has made far more available. The drivers most hopeful about the public transportation option are in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, New Delhi, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Nairobi, while drivers particularly craving better road-­‐information are in Chicago, Los Angeles, Moscow, and the Indian cities.

Consequences of traffic

A little over one-­third of respondents reported changing the way they get to work in the last year, while the remainder clung to habit. Drivers in Mexico City, Milan, Bangalore, New Delhi, Beijing, and Shenzhen were the most likely to have changed, while Americans, Canadians, Londoners, Muscovites, and residents of Stockholm, Madrid and Nairobi were the most resistant – whether because they were the most habitual, or because change was simply impossible.

Forty-one percent of all respondents reported that at least once in the last three years, traffic was so bad that in the midst of a journey, they just turned around and went home (possibly encountering the same traffic jams on the way back!). The incidence of this about-face was especially pronounced in Mexico City, as well as in the Indian, Chinese, and African cities.

Even worse, 47% of all respondents said that in the last month they decided to forego a planned trip due to anticipated traffic at least once. Such discouragement particularly afflicted residents of Moscow, Bangalore, New Delhi, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Nairobi – again, the prime victims of traffic in our survey.

A purely hypothetical question…

Finally, if people could be liberated from the specter of traffic, what would they do with the additional time? The survey revealed that 56% of people would spend more time with family and friends, 48% would exercise (or exercise more), 40% would spend more time on recreation, 29% would sleep more – and 24% would work more. In this last category – more work – those especially prone to do it are in Milan, Bangalore, New Delhi, Beijing, and Nairobi.

Source links for IBM survey: press release [PDF]

IBM Commuter Pain Index

Sparse networks and commuting hubs

By | Autos, Commuting | No Comments
Pic courtesy sciencedirect.com

Pic courtesy sciencedirect.com

Most often we describe mGaadi as a commuter marketplace. A marketplace where sellers are auto rickshaw/taxi drivers and buyers are commuters. Any new marketplace has an added challenge (over non-marketplace consumer startups) of building two groups of stakeholders (buyers and sellers) in parallel. A commuter marketplace by definition has two additional dimensions to contend with – location and time.

Sprawling Bangalore is home to 8.5 million people and spread over an area of 2,190 sq. km. Even as we constrain the initial scope of our mission to only auto rickshaw commuting, we have our work cut out. Since we don’t have magicians on our team nor do we have astronomical resources, we can’t just “boil the commuting ocean.” We have been testing mGaadi in pilot mode for the past few months with a small network of auto rickshaws and commuters. Predictably, we ironed out a few bugs along the way but the main issue we’re grappling with is matching commuters and auto rickshaws at the right place at the right time.

Constraints are a beautiful thing for startups.

I mean it.

Constraints give a much-needed focus.

The way we are focusing mGaadi’s efforts is probably not terribly original but let me share it anyway.

Our customer enrollment efforts will largely spent in satisfying the needs of regular office-goer commuters. Even that is too broad a brush. So we are starting with a long list of commuting hubs (top office locations and residential districts) and whittling it down to a short list.

I hope you are wondering about our whittling down process because I’m going to tell you now. 🙂

Crowdsourcing.

We’ll continue recruiting commuters into our pilot but our sweet spot commuters are ones with deterministic and regular commuting patterns (e.g. “EGL to Koramangala between 5pm and 6pm every weekday” or “Dairy Circle to Meenakshi Temple around 7pm every Monday” or “Old Airport Road to Whitefield ITPL between 7 and 7:30am every weekday”).

Our driver enrollment efforts will be disproportionately focused around satisfying commuting demand around the short list of hubs. Once we start satisfying a majority of trip requests in the first set of commuting hubs, we would add the second set. And that’s how we hope to march. Hub after hub with expanding time windows until… (you get the drift).

This is the part where I get to ask “what can YOU do for us?”

If you match the profile of our sweet spot commuters, do signup pronto and our bots will quickly follow up with you. Do you have colleagues or friends who might be interested? What are you waiting for? Spread the love.

Thank you.

 

A different kind of Indian city

By | About, Commuting | No Comments
Pic courtesy designpublic.in

Pic courtesy designpublic.in

Population of Indian cities, already more than 340 million, is projected to reach 600 million by 2030. Daily passenger trips among 87 of the country’s major cities will have doubled to roughly 482 million a day. Commuting in Indian cities is universally painful. The texture of pain might differ – based on whether one uses public transportation, takes auto rickshaws or drives a personal car. Commuters privileged enough with access to chauffeur-driven vehicles, company shuttles or taxis fare better… but they too are not immune to gnarling traffic conditions.

We would like to see a different Indian city. A better city. A city where more people use public transportation. A city with less privately-owned cars plying on roads. A city with more green vehicles than ever before. A city with seamless multi-modal transportation options. A city where you stop associating vehicles with owning or EMIs or renting… actually a city where you stop thinking of vehicles altogether and instead think of commuting options. A city where commuting evokes on-demand and transactional in a manner not different from Amazon EC2. A city where commuting via an auto rickshaw is no longer a game of Russian roulette. A city where auto rickshaw drivers don’t need to waste fuel (or time) looking for customers. A city with significantly less friction between commuters and auto rickshaw drivers. A city where driving an auto rickshaw could well be the start of a fruitful career. A city where you won’t see too many auto rickshaw drivers driving a rental vehicle with nary a change to his standard of living. A city where your taxi company will not call you at the last minute to regretfully convey their inability to fulfill your airport dropoff booking. A city whose residents breathe more fresh air than ever before. A city where cyclists and runners are no longer endangered species.

You might say we are dreamers but we are not the only ones. (Thank you John Lennon)

B.H.A.G. (Big Hoary Audacious Goal). You can’t bring about change without dreaming big.

We have to start somewhere though. What is our proverbial beachhead?

Auto rickshaws.

Why?

There is a LOT of pain and a LOT of inefficiencies in this commuting vertical. Pain for commuters. Pain for drivers. In fact it’s a perfect storm begging for a solution to efface all that pain. We are building mGaadi to be that solution.

What are our motivations?

Over 95% of India’s workforce (which includes approximately 30 million commercial drivers) is unorganized. Research has demonstrated that financial and health decision “defaults” and income determinism are significant inflection points in raising the standard and quality of living of this demographic. We are passionate about mGaadi’s potential as a market-based solution that will delight commuters and generate incremental income (and social security cover) for auto rickshaw drivers. Some might call this an inclusive solution. We prefer to call it a fair solution.

 

Go Places!

By | Autos, Commuting | No Comments

It’s time to talk about the tag line on our logo.

Pic courtesy wikipedia.org

Pic courtesy wikipedia.org

I was talking about mGaadi to a policy wonk friend (PW) some months ago. He shared his own auto driver story. The sheer ubiquity of the auto rickshaw in the Indian milieu is such that everyone has a story (or two) to tell about auto drivers. Here’s how I recall PW’s story.

As we drove into the large gated apartment community, the auto driver (AD) got all wistful and said something on the lines of yeh sab humare naseeb mein nahin likha hai (translates to “all this is not in OUR fate”).

PW: “Why not? Today you are driving a rented auto rickshaw. Tomorrow you’ll save enough money to make a down payment on an auto rickshaw. After a few more years, you’ll be able to save enough to purchase a small house on a loan. And so on.”

AD: (shaking his head vigorously) “No sir. That is just impossible. I’ve been *renting* and driving this auto rickshaw for the last 10 years. I haven’t been able to save enough.. nor do I see that situation changing anytime soon.”

In Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s book Poor Economics, they refer to AD’s situation as being perpetually stuck in a ‘poverty trap’. In all our discussions with auto drivers and review of existing studies, what came through loud and clear was that the vast majority of auto drivers (around 70%) don’t own their livelihood vehicle. Many of them drive for decades and end up never owning a vehicle. The story of Mishra-ji  is not unique at all. When I interviewed him last year, Mishra-ji was working as a security guard after ‘retiring’ from his auto rickshaw driver job of 24 years.

We believe that vehicle ownership is at least a ‘necessary’ (but definitely not ‘sufficient’) condition to get auto rickshaw drivers out of their ‘poverty trap’. Increasing driver incomes, reducing “dead miles” and waiting time, adding determinism to daily incomes… these are some of the outcomes we are trying to achieve via mGaadi.

The design patterns of our product aim to address commuters’ pain points as well as achieving desirable outcomes for drivers. We want both commuters and drivers to Go Places! We hope you’ll join us on this journey.

 

Ten commandments to pick the right auto rickshaw driver in Bangalore

By | Autos, Commuting | No Comments

[Editor’s Note: My good friend Manjula is an entrepreneur, cycling endurance junkie and a super randonneur. She’s also a karate black belt, a zen woman, and (as this post will illustrate) a pattern recognizer – in short, a woman for all seasons. While we at mGaadi are tweaking our technical infrastructure and refining algorithms to match you with the best auto drivers in Bangalore, Manjula’s ten commandments will keep you in good stead — at least until we launch :)]

An Auto-Rickshaw Driver
For the past 2 years I have been commuting using Bus and Auto (mostly Auto to avoid crowds).  My car sits in my garage and I take it out once in a while to keep the battery alive. In autos I have had more or less pleasant experiences chatting with the driver, discussing current events and philosophies and sometimes just minding my own businesses. Recently after experiencing the auto journeys in other states I came up with a conclusion that Bangalore Auto drivers are angels in comparison.

When I shared this with some of my friends they all looked at me as if I am from Mars and recounted the horror stories of overcharging, rash driving, ogling, rude behavior and other irritating and some times criminal behavior. Although I could relate to their stories from my past experience long time ago, I realized that I have had absolutely great experience in the recent past. Then it hit me, over the last two years I have mastered getting good behavior out of ordinary ones and weeding out and avoiding the bad ones. So I sat down and thought about all the things I do and here is my commandments or auto protocol.

Idea is to choose the Auto and not let the Auto choose you. Obvious ones like proper license plate, uniforms and other legal related signs are important. This is above and beyond that.

Casually stand on the roadside without looking directly at autos, or approach the auto from the back. Observe the Auto, look for posters, writings, pictures, driver’s dress, mirror fitments, music boxes and what the driver is doing (reading, looking at people, smoking, chewing tobacco etc). With some practice you will be able to do this with finesse. :-)

1) Religious Motif’s :  If the driver has the Kumkum or Namaz topi, or Cross, it is usually very safe to take this auto.  I have gotten 100 percent good behavior from such folks.

2) Movie Insignia : If the auto has pictures, or some form of allegiance to Darshan, Ambareesh, Upendra or Salman Khan avoid. If it has Shankar Nag, Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan its a good sign. Strangely I haven’t seen too many heroin’s pictures. Picture less also indicates a very no nonsense mind.

3) Age of the Driver : Middle aged auto drivers are usually very well behaved and cultured. They are from an era where social propriety was deemed higher than money. If the driver is dressed with Khaki uniform open like a coat and collars up etc, be cautious.  Obviously not all young ones are bad, but look at him to see signs for unbalanced raw youth (what we call “Padde hudugaru”). (Some of the signs are explained below).

4) Writing on the auto wall : Many autos have very biased and anti women writings relating to movies, usually accompanied with a picture of knife and blood (Why do they allow them ?). This indicates the driver/owner has had bad experiences (Jilted love comes to mind) and  they tend to be irrational, driving fast and basically being angry at everyone in traffic. So avoid.

5) Smoking, etc : If the driver is smoking, avoid, but he sees you and immediately quashes it that is ok you can safely take the auto. I also avoid tobacco chewing fellows as they constantly spitting on the road getting on my nerves and compelling me to lecture them and hence a possibility for confrontation.

6) Avoid auto stands (Not the pre-paid ones). They are usually in groups and you will be outnumbered and psychologically overpowered into making a wrong decision. My suspicion is, most of them are also local jaunts for jobless youth of that area. Go little ahead and wait for a empty moving auto.

7) Reading : If the driver is either reading news paper or tucked some news paper in his auto, thats a positive sign. They tend to be very well behaved and usually doll out oodles of moderate philosophy.

8) Music : If loud music is blaring the latest Item song, Avoid. If there are some nice mild songs or even classy FM go in.

9) Mirrors  : Some auto drivers have a third mirror in front of them so that they can look at the passenger, presumably to hear what they are saying in terms of direction. But some are used to ogle at the passengers. So watch out for the angle. The mirror should be positioned in such a way that only if he looks up he should be able to see you.

10) Love/Lust signs :  If the auto has love signs, picture of lips (usually on mirrors) and scantily clad women, obviously use caution. Use the 1-9 above to judge and balance this.

Finally Speak in Kannada. Nothing softens and chastises them like matronly tone and some chaste Kannada words, like en Anna, en Appa, and if he is elderly, addressing them as Swamy (Koramangalakke bartira swamy ?). Using plural/bahuvachana (respectful prefix of bartira instead of Bartiya ?) would make huge difference as well.  If you cant speak Kannada, using other languages with good soft tones and non threatening gestures will help.

Disclaimer: Some autos are rented by the driver hence some of the logic may not apply, however it is always the combination of these factors. These guidelines are for me and my type of folks, rest need to customize it or discard it. Obviously this isn’t a scientific study and many are stereotypes created with my biases. But these are empirical observations which have worked for me. This is written with a  need of self preservation, of peace of mind and dignity and not to offend anyone. Finally this writing assumes the driver to be a male as I haven’t come across a female auto driver yet in Bangalore.

This was originally published in Manjula Sridharan’s blog, and republished here with her permission.

 

An Ethereal commuting experience – Part 2

By | Cars, Commuting, Driver Chronicles, People, Taxis | No Comments
Pic courtesy deviantart.com

Pic courtesy deviantart.com

I might as as well finish the story I started to enumerate to Vishy. So the ‘S’ is me. The passenger in a KSTDC taxi.Very surprised by this experience. I saw KSTDC taxis around, hadn’t really called them for an onward trip to the airport, so I wanted to give them a try. I always took Meru or Easycabs, and if that failed, my office would organize a taxi from an small fleet operator nearby. Calling KSTDC was like calling VSNL dialup customer service in those days when Dialup was King; the most you could do is to get a fancy modem that could wringe out those few extra Kbs of speed on your telephone line. VSNL customer service was like “aah,  what is your problem? Ok. This is what you can do,… ” and then they will give you a solution that will work. Todays’ call centre services mostly have too much niceties before content, mostly they cant solve your problem (if you had a real one). My KSTDC call centre guy sounded like that, it was refreshing. No niceties, … but the tone of his voice I could make out he meant that the job is done…He said I would get an SMS with the details of the taxi and so on…. and so it goes. As you read in Part 1, I was feeling…. is this guy for real? Hey,… whats your story?

Ramesh has a very  unusual  story.  My usual question to any taxi or rickshaw driver is – Do you own the vehicle you drive? I usually find better service, better maintained vehicles in most cases when there is ownership. This ride was exceptionally good, he was brisk, but not speeding more than necessary, it felt like he had an extra pair  of eyes under the car chassis. He seemed to know every small undulation on the road and rolled over graciously over them. Hardly  feeling  any jerk while driving. He drove as though he had two eggs embedded under his feet when he was pushing those pedals, any sudden push might break those eggs… I assumed right, that this guy owns his car. He did, but he said his wife took a loan from her bank to finance his vehicle. How come? I asked. The story is – his wife works for a reputed software firm. He met his wife some years ago in their village, she belongs to a different caste, but both the families made hell for them and he could not live with his parents, as he encouraged her to finish her college (much to the  Chargin of his parents). They moved out on their own, she finished her college and learnt programming ( rattled a list of programming languages she knew). She had taken a break from work for a year  because  they had a baby and she is now back to work. He has paid off his loan, and sometimes rents his vehicles to other drivers occasionally, when  there is an urgent need. He  doesn’t  do night shifts too often, unless there is a prior commitment.

Ramesh plans to buy another vehicle and get his cousin from the village. He has dreams for his kid. He believes there is a discipline in eating, sleeping and habits while driving that keeps one fit and free from accidents caused by fatigue. He also seems to know how to maintain his vehicle in great condition, so that it is reliable.  To me he seemed that in his job as a driver, he is as good as it can get in a place like India. He looks to me like  a person who has a story, doing his best to make his life work.

My commuting experience was great, five Stars to him and his well maintained car. This interaction made me see that he is not just a nameless operator, driver but  a person who plays his role for the time being. He has your life in his hands. Taking a vehicle out in Indian roads is potentially dangerous, conflict ridden and threat to life and  property. Its got everything to do with the driver and drivers out there. Not all people who drive, and become drivers, get on this path, even for a while. There are somethings innate, people come with those  attitudes  that makes them take those decisions; but a lot is systemic. So what is so systemic about driver behavior  and a great  commuting  experience ??