It was one of those days where I was waiting for the weekend to arrive as I was still trying to get over the hangover of the weekend on a Wednesday,I had finished writing my internal exams and was longing to go back home to my comfortable bed. Unfortunately or fortunately I was held back for almost 45 minutes for a club meeting in the college. My friends weren’t present so I had all the more to loath it.

      Finally the meeting was over and it was late. I was mentally prepared to face the ridiculous demands of the autowallahs to reach home. I was dreadring to hire an auto as I did not want to get more annoyed by their arrogant attitude.I slowly walked out of college and plugged in ear phones so that I could keep my mind at peace.After walking a small distance, an autowallah stopped in front of me and I asked “Banjara Hills chalogey?” Much to my surprise the he asked how I much I usually paid to go there. ( autos have meters but they are seldom used in Hyderabad.) Usually it’s 30 rupees on the meter but I give 40rs,i.e 10rs extra.He agreed and every time the autowallah agrees without any resistance I grow suspicious of the person, so I made it clear that I will not shell a rupee extra so that he doesn’t demand for more after reaching the destination.

      I got into the auto happy that I did not have to walk a long distance to hire the auto or take their tantrums. The automan was a aged around 60-62 years and with the prayer cap on his head and his accent I knew he was a Hyderabad Muslim  I was going to get back to listening to music when the man started talking. I had already made an image in my mind that this man one of those irritating drivers who talk a lot and annoy the passengers.I’m very judgmental at times.He asked me what I was studying and I replied saying Journalism as was sure that he wouldn’t understand if I said mass communication. I was conversing in Hindi or rather Hyderabad which is a mix of Hindi and Urdu  He just confirmed if I understood Hindi or not and I said I did. He gave me compliment by saying that I spoke very good Hyderabad especially the way I addressed him saying “ji” or “aap”. I was so happy to hear it , as this compliment was coming from a person who was good at the language himself.

He then said that he will ask me something. *ding dong* My mind started wandering in all the wrong directions and I said “ji kahiye”. He asked a mathematical problem. Phew! I should inculcate more of positive thinking. The riddle went like this, Using the coins of 1,2,5 and notes of 20 and 50 I had to sum them upto 100rs and at the end there should be 10 notes (inclusive of the coins.) You could not use 10rs notes. Firstly I was taken aback to receive a puzzle from a auto-driver and secondly, I was more than sure that I’m not going to get the answer because when it came to math my mind never works,logic is hard to penetrate.

I gave it a thought for a while and being lazy person I gave up and said I do not know the answer. He immediately told me not to give up so early, but to give a good try and put in some effort into it. “If you happen to get this question in your exam. would you give up just like that?” he asked. He also narrated how he asked other passengers the similar question and that a girl who initially gave up, had got the answer correct after some thinking. 

I gave a serious try this time around but unfortunately I was getting only 9 notes, I tried using my fingers to count them and it was  confusing me even more. I had time only till I reached home and I was nearing home. I was not bothered about what was  going around, I tried my best to solve the problem as it was question about my big fat ego.Surprise! Surprise!

I did not get the answer. I was almost home when he asked if I go the answer and I had to admit that I was hopeless in math and numbers. He laughed and said “allah aap rahem kare.”

He then gave me the answer and asked me to write it down so that I could ask my friends and get them to treat me if they failed to answer the question. I wrote it down as he said.

“4* 20 rupee notes, 3*5rupee notes and 2*2rupee coins and 1*1 rupee coin =20+20+20=20+5+5+5+2+2+1” I did not hear that we could 1 and 2 rupee coins. Had I been a little more careful in listening I would have impressed the old man with my brains in addition to my language.I gave the money and thanked him as he had my journey so productive. 

I got down the auto and as I climbed the stairs I thought about the automan. My ride from college to home was never so good as it had been that day. There was something so beautiful, sincere and genuine about him.The “apnapan” with which he spoke to a complete stranger like me was something I couldn’t comprehend. He really influenced my day, I was smiling throughout the day and all this was because of a stranger. It’s people like him that make me feel that it’s not a bad world after all. Life is good and people are awesome. 

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Leela Akaldev

Leela Akaldev

Work Hard, Party Harder and Stay Humble. :)