You hear the word Manipal and quickly associate it with students, college, campus life, KMC, MIT and ‘money’. But there is another side of the coin which many are aloof to; the life of autowallas, the laundry man, the fruit sellers, the hairdressers and many more. Lives of these people directly depend on us-the students. As we spend these next 2 months basking in the glory of these vacations, one can’t help but give a thought on how our absence is going to have an impact on their livelihoods.
Autowallas in Manipal have often been accused of cheating, overcharging and not using the meter. More often than not, we see them as ‘villains’ trying their very best to loot the students. All our argumentative skills tend to blow off some steam as we bargain for as low as five rupees with these mortals. But delving deep into their lives, one can safely presume that it is anything but a bed of roses.
Sudhakar, 45, is a regular Manipalite who earns his living by driving an auto daily from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Besides, he also has a farm nearby where he plants tobacco and paddy for sale. He also owns a buffalo.
His tale is quite inspirational. He has a son and a daughter. His son was a mechanical engineering student at MIT.He passed out recently and is now doing MBA from Nova Business School, Hyderabad. His daughter is currently pursuing medical sciences from KMC. Having seen this place grow since the days it was half barren, life certainly seems to have come a full circle for Sudhakar. Overjoyed and content with the success of his children, he has set higher targets now.
“I want to give them the greatest education possible so that one day they can fulfill their wishes. I seek nothing but their happiness in return. Then perhaps in the autumn of my days, I shall live every moment cherishing the bounties of their success and take pride in whatever my children have achieved through my hard work” says Sudhakar.
Having been in this business for over 20 years, Sudhakar has had his share of quarrels. But overall, he says that he finds the students of Manipal very cordial and friendly. “They are nice people. They call me “Anna” affectionately and that really touches my heart at times”.
So what are the problems these autowallas are facing? “The current hike in petrol prices has only made our plight worse. We have to readjust the meter readings now. There are certain issues to be solved. Believe it or not, today even having a coffee or a tea is a problem for us” says Sudhakar.
But like all humans, He too is optimistic and doesn’t forget to bid us off with a smile, a smile that is reminiscent of all the pains and the hardships that this man has undergone to earn a relatively better living among his fellow counterparts.