An auto ride can be bumpy and tiring but if the vehicle is decked up with traditional handmade crafts, beads and chains, adorned with colourful and decorative lights, it can be a different story altogether! Precisely the reason why it’s hard to miss Amit Kumar Saha’s auto, usually parked outside Ekamra Haat in the capital.
Saha’s passengers, more than often, click selfies with him and his vehicle before embarking on a ride. From locals to tourists, his auto is popular among one and all. MCL interacted with this autowala who believes he is promoting Odisha’s art and culture in a little way, through this gesture.
What made you come up with such an innovative concept for your auto?
Often, I have seen people leaving some of their things mistakenly in the auto. And, when they come searching for it, they have problems spotting the vehicle since they all look the same. That’s one of the reasons which influenced my decision. Also I had heard people coming from other states talking about having better autos in their state. So I thought why not showcase the culture of Odisha through the designs in my auto.
Why’d you choose Ekamra Haat as your location?
The main reason I have chosen Ekamra Haat is because a lot of tourists visit this place and they can easily spot and access my auto. That apart, Ram Mandir is also close to Ekamra Haat, which is also a major attraction for tourists. Exhibition ground too is stone’s throw away. So, this is a busy area bustling with people. Hence I chose the Haat as my primary spot.
Is it true that you provide free rides to people with disability?
If I see any blind or disabled person facing difficulty crossing the road, I make sure I do my bit and drop them in their desired location. Yes, I don’t charge for that. I believe in humanity. If they were one of my family members, would I not help them?
What kind of response do you get from fellow autowalas?
Many of them discourage me and advise me to focus on my rides and fares, instead of the decoration bit. But I do not listen to them because I enjoy doing this and I want people to see how culturally rich my state is. I like it when people take out their cameras and click photos of my auto.
Who has done all this decoration?
I have done it all myself. I have bought these materials from various areas of the state and it has cost me quite a few bucks. And, I make it a point to keep adding new things and changing the old ones too, as and when required.
Do you charge extra from passengers given that your auto is not like any other auto we see on the road?
No, I never charge a penny extra from any of my passengers. In fact, there are many people who have been impressed with my initiative and have given me extra money.
How do you feel when you get so much of attention from people?
I work for people and that’s what I would continue doing. I have never expected people to come up to me and ask me about my life and profession. They come to me because they believe I am doing some good work for the society.