A Nice Rickshaw Ride…yes, it’s possible

I had the best rickshaw driver ever today. I ended up in the peth area (inside the city) for some work, and I had to meet Sachin to look at the space we’re going to have the batizado. I didn’t have my bike because I was unclear on the directions and Sachin had his bike, so we would ride home together. Sachin had to leave so I had to go look at the space alone. The rickshaw driver and I already got off to a good start. I’ve always had great rickshaw rides with Muslim drivers. One time on my way to work with Jessica we got into a rickshaw and it was around 20 Rupees less than we normally paid. I told him that his meter must be broken and he said that everyone else’s is altered and his is the correct amount. We both tried to tip him but he wouldn’t accept. Anyway, I was on my way to meet Sachin but he had to leave so we had to take a slight detour to the batizado space. He took all sorts of inner shortcuts through smaller roads. It was so much faster. When we were close to the space he asked if I knew the way we were going and I told him that I’m used to going on the main roads. I told him that I was super impressed with his knowledge of the city and the mini roads he took. He asked me why he should waste my time and money. Rickshaw drivers in Pune almost always try to rip you off. I was super impressed. When we reached the space I asked if he wouldn’t mind waiting for a few minutes so I could check it out and then I would be heading home. Of course he could wait.
On the way home we spoke more about the differences between the US and India. Of course I love India I told him. We spoke about spicy food, politics, the bad and good of India and the US. His philosophy is that everyone is good; politics and large groups of people make us bad, corrupt even. I showed him my Hindi book that I study while in rickshaws. He asked me if I had any American money. I actually have been carrying around a few nickels so I gave him one. He asked me how much it was worth and I said around 5 Rupees. He told me to pay him that much less in the end. I refused and said don’t worry about it. We spoke about the beauty of New York and its diversity. He’s from Pune and his village is still in the city but on the other end.
When I got home I asked his name. The bill came to 178 and I gave him a 500 and asked for 300 back. It was just too nice of a ride. His name was Azim – I think. Sachin said that it means ‘a kind person.’ And a kind person he was.

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