The Art of Life|Nov 23, 2012 4:00 AM| by:

Desi [email protected]*

akanksha auto

It’s night. There is only one auto on the street. My mind starts ticking: Bas, Bacchu! This one is gonna fleece me … he’s going to take not a penny less than 100.
I am Dead Sure.
I walk up to him prepared for W.A.R.

Me: ***** chaloge? (Will you go?)
He: Haan! (Yes)
Me: How much will you charge?
He: 50.

The ride begins. Humbled, I hide my mental embarrassment by getting yappie. He is Mohammad Aslam, from Manihari, Bihar. Proudly he tells me, he belongs to a land which had the, ” … power to steal Lord Krishna’s most precious jewel. Do you know the name of the jewel? Hmm? Can you guess?!”I have absolutely no clue. He beams, and says, giggling, “Un ka Dil, his heart!”

Manihari, his home, is on the banks of river Kosi, the ‘Sorrow of Bihar’.  Aslam Miyan lost his land and his two brothers to the massive flooding of the river in 2008. He laughs softly, “What can we do?! She is Chaalak, Chatur … tricky, clever. She can change her course anytime. You cannot trust her to stick to one way only!”Aslam shifted to Delhi after the floods. Since then he has been driving autos.By now, we are closer home.
Traffic light. U turn, not permitted.
I tell him to take the auto to the next traffic light, about a kilometer down the road, and then take a turn, “It is allowed there.”
Suddenly … he swerves. Like his Kosi, he changes course drastically.
The auto goes left, then right. I feel like I am in some chase movie.
My head reels. I lose all sense of direction.
And then, suddenly … stillness.When I regain my senses, I realize he is parked on the right side of the traffic light. He just needs to take a right turn to get home. He has saved distance, time and energy. Zimbly.

With ALL my education, all the gyaan on the ‘Way to do the Right Thing’ I would have NEVER thought, or imagined ‘How to do the Simplest Thing’! Aslam Bhai is Desi Jugaad @ Play.

I laugh the happiest. A smile playing on my lips, I remember that the guy who lost his heart in Aslam Miyan’s homeland, too was a Saarthi, a Charioteer. Today, the auto might have replaced the chariot, but the master and disciple equation?! That remains the same!

Akanksha Joshi
(Akanksha is an independent documentary filmmaker who likes listening to stories from life. You can see more of her work at www.facebook.com/akajoshi)
* A loose translation of the title would be Indian Innovation at Play, i.e, impromptu solution in a manner both deft and legal … or almost.