“I came to Bombay from a small village in Pune and started my career as a peon in a travel agency. My work often extended beyond midnight as I had to wait until the auditors were done so I spent most of my time in the office luxury buses. I was awed by their interiors; they had TVs and so many special things to offer to their guests! That’s when I decided that no matter which vehicle I buy in the future whether its just a cycle or an entire rickshaw, I will modify it.
By 1999 I had saved up just enough money to buy a normal rickshaw. For two years I drove it just the way it was, but my dream to modify it was still alive. I kept saving up money for the modifications and my first attempt was making a tissue paper box out of hay and keeping newspapers. People appreciated my efforts, and every year kept adding things to this small space. Today my vehicle has a TV, an STD telephone, wifi connection, a power bank, mobile recharge coupons, a first aid box, a fire extinguisher, tissue papers, magazines, newspapers, hot tea, a calendar and a plank that has the daily updated stock market rates.
I don’t come from a privileged background, so very early on I decided that no matter what profession I get into, I would try to make a difference in the world… so I do my bit in little ways. On days like International Women’s day, Ramzaan, Christmas and Rakshabandhan I give free rides to everyone in the city. I do this because I believe that I earn on all 365 days thanks to my Mumbaikars and I have to give back. I’m not a rich man, but I don’t have to do big things to help — I just have to do the small things correctly.
Every year, I save enough to sponsor fruity packets for a cancer home on every Sunday and I support the education of two girls every year. In my free time, I drive around to collect old clothes from people who I’ve known for years to give them to the street children I see on my way.
You don’t need lots of money to be able to donate…you just need to have the right intentions. Half of what I make through online bookings goes to charity…no questions asked. At, the end of the day I am a normal rickshaw driver who earns the bare minimum, but the feeling of gratitude and having received so much in life drives the passion in me to contribute and give back to society.
18 years ago, I bought this small rickshaw…my second home and since then I’ve given 2 Ted x talks, I’ve been featured in a Google project called ‘India in a day’ and won the CNN-IBN Young Leader Award in 2012. The only two things my journey should teach you is that no job is too small…if you believe you can —you will and if you give without expecting anything in return–it’ll always come back to you… times hundred!”