When heat that has the ability to literally sap glucose out of your body hits, a person needs a relaxing travel experience sans the local train fights. Don’t fret over surging taxi fares either as ‘A/C Auto Dekho Magar Pyar Se’ is here. Mostly plying in the Andheri suburbs, the auto has every facility a speed-hungry Mumbaikar might need.
Only a year and a half old, the auto rickshaw boasts of a wi-fi that operates from a dongle and charging portals that are I-phone friendly. With four fans, attractive lighting and Bhojpuri movie posters, the auto begins with attracting a customer in. Once the customer is seated, they are greeted with a water flask, an ash tray, ear buds, a candy box, tissue papers and daily newspapers along with a first aid box, a dustbin and a fully stocked cigarette container.
Ranjit Singh is the 28-year-old auto rickshaw driver that conceptualised his vehicle after the television show he was working on wrapped up. “I was working in the costume department of the film and television industry and was working on the Mahabharat Serial on Star Plus. Once the show wrapped up, I had nothing to do so I decided to drive an auto. I earlier worked in a shift for auto owners but it didn’t suit me. I bought my own and made it the way it looks right now,” he tells us.
Still looking for acting roles in his spare time, Singh tries to keep up with customer’s demands. He keeps them entertained with music videos on his flat screen monitor while he finds their destinations on his GPS. When it comes to family, things are a little different. “My wife has still not seen this auto, neither has my 3-year-old son. Maybe one day, when they come to visit me, they will know what it looks like,” he said. His wife Rita lives in Bihar where Singh is from. He lives with his brother who is a production manager in the Bhojpuri film industry. “My family is supportive of this. They are happy with what I do,” he says.
All Singh wants is the happiness of the customer, besides a credible movie role. “I wanted to design it in such a way that anyone, be it rich or poor, feels that this rickshaw is for me and has a happy journey. Just the positivity that they give off when they sit inside is what keeps me running. A lot of people crowd my auto because of its uniqueness but I have made peace with it.”
Singh gets calls from many customers who are his regulars and takes up local fare when time permits. “I work from 3 PM to 5 AM and only charge the fare. everything else is free except the cigarettes. I sell them by MRP,” he said.
The dimpled driver routinely gets interrupted by curious onlookers who click his pictures on their smartphones. His cell-phone number where he can be reached is - 99820567460. If you can’t manage to get a ride in it, make sure you at least get a glimpse at his labour of love.
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