“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
He can be, without doubt, termed Gujarat’s best ambassador of tourism. Donning a Gandhi topi, a khadi kurta and carrying the Mahatma’s message:” Be the change” on his auto-rickshaw, Udhaysinh Ramlal Jadav believes in the principle of ‘atithi devo bhav’ and goes that extra mile to treat his customers as God. Born and brought up in Ahmedabad, with a family of 10; parents, three kids, wife, brother, sister and her son. Udaybhai comes from a very middle class family with a load of responsibilities. It takes a lot of guts to jump into something like this for a person with this kind of a family background. But his conviction on his beliefs, determination to add love to his work, and some pleasant experiences when customers hear about his idea, drives him to accomplish his mission.
Udhaysinh Ramlal Jadav Udaybhai was like any other rickshaw driver for 10 years. Surprisingly three months ago an incident changed his life. On his regular trips to the Gandhi Ashram, he saw volunteers of Manav Sadhna rendering selfless service to the needy. Inspired by their endeavor, he decided to follow the principles of the Father of the Nation in word and deed. Udaybhai started “Ahmedabad no Rickshawalo” on 21st October 2010, the auspicious day of Dushhera, with the concept of gift-economy in mind. The idea behind gift-economy is that someone before you has paid for your travel; now you have to pay-it-forward for the subsequent passengers. Udaybhai, after every trip, provides the passenger with a self-written greeting card-cum-envelope in which the passenger will place the amount of his/her choice To make the journey of his customers comfortable,” Amdavad no Rickshawalo “as he likes to call himself, has provided for a mini library in the auto, with books on heritage, on tourist places of visit in the city, pilgrimage sites in the state, besides English and Gujarati newspapers. An MP3 player will provide you with a choice of songs to listen to and there’s a small fan for the summer months. If you are hungry, there are two boxes containing snacks and drinking water. A dustbin to throw the remains has also been provided in the auto. If the journey at night is long, he has installed a portable light for your reading pleasure. The exterior of the auto also attracts attention. On the front is painted, ‘Love all’, while the mudguard displays the religious symbols of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian communities, which Udhaybhai says “is to convey the message of secularism”. On the side he has hung a board that says in Hindi and English, “Namaste and welcome to Ahmedabad. I am Udhay, at your service. I will take you on a journey of Ahmedabad’s streets and across its bustling bridges to experience Gandhi’s legacy and architectural masterpieces…” The message ends with his mobile number and website name: http://www.movedbylove.org.
However, the most impressive thing about Udhaybhai, who is in his 40s, is that he doesn’t charge his customers according to the meter, because the meter always reads ZERO.When asked if it doesn’t pinch him since he comes from a poor background, he says, “I have no complaints. Whatever I earn at the end of the day, I use it to run my household. I will continue to treat my guests with respect and make them feel at home.” The Good Samaritan has also put a donation box in his auto, where passengers can deposit money. He puts a number of coins daily in the box. This he uses to help needy people. Besides, he keeps sets of clothes in his vehicle which he provides to those who wear tattered clothes. One of his regular customers is a doctor who has partial vision. Udhaybhai ferries him to his destination each day and the doctor deposits money in his cover. To improve his service, Udhaybhai has kept a suggestion book for his passengers. This is what some of the passengers wrote in the book. “This day I have found something new, which I have never seen before. An auto that has newspapers, magazines, MP3 player, reading light and other impressive facilities. The driver is well-mannered and polite, in contrast to the auto drivers in our city.” —Pravin Jhankat, Rajkot “I and my son hired this auto from Subhash Bridge for the first time. The slogans were really inspiring. The driver was very polite. Udhaybhai you are a real Indian! Let every Indian keep an akshay patra like you.” —Dr Girish Panchal, Ahmedabad “It is pleasure travelling in Udhaybhai’s auto. I pray to the Almighty to make him prosperous and bring happiness in his life.” —M K Chopra, RBI, Ahmedabad Quoting one of the pleasant and memorable experiences, Udaybhai said: “Once, while I was coming back after dropping one of the passengers, I saw a blind man trying to cross the road. But he wasn’t able to do so due to heavy traffic. So I went to him and asked to hop onto the auto. He denied initially but agreed later. After taking him to the other side of the street, I asked him where he wants to go. He said, “No thanks, I would reach by my own”. He was probably hesitant ,since he thought that I would charge him. He would have never thought that he will meet somebody like this. After insisting a couple of times, he told that he wanted to reach Hirpur to his blind men’s’ hostel. Once he sat, he told his entire life story to me and I shared mine with him. While talking about all this, we reached his hostel. The hostel warden came out running and worried since it was unusual for the hostel students to come down in a private auto till the hostel gates. However, he was pleasantly surprised once he came to know about the concept and invited me for a cup of tea.” These are the kind of experiences that keep the spirits alive for such noble causes in spite of all the financial hiccups. Of course, there are bitter experiences as well but nothing compared to the pleasant ones. In future, Udaybhai intends to expand this drive and have many more such rickshaws. As what he believes, at the end of the day, it is the absolute peace of mind and not money that will bring him a good night sleep.