Seemingly small gestures go a long way in changing someone’s life. But for Aarti Madhusudan, a resident of Chennai, such gestures are just a way to improve herself as a person.
Booking a hotel room for her driver on an overnight trip, for instance, wasn’t a noble gesture for her. It was simply an obvious decision.
Aarti was on a trip to Chidambaram, about 200 km from Chennai, with her parents. They had booked a cab from a popular travel aggregator for the overnight journey, and as they left, she started asking “a zillion questions” to Elumalai, her driver for the trip.
“I found out that he works very hard to pay off his loans. Day and night, he accepts cab rides, giving up his sleep so he can secure a better future for his two kids. He even told me that he hardly gets to see his children because he is too busy driving the cab to earn money. He had just returned from a trip to Tirupati that morning, and by evening, he had accepted our ride request,” Aarti told The Better India.
Naturally, Elumalai was tired by the end of the day, when the group reached their hotel after a six-hour drive.
“I wondered if the [travel organisation] made provisions at all for their drivers and realised that they did not. Mostly, they slept in the cars. So I decided that after a long six-hour drive, no one needed the rest as much as Elumalai did, and booked him another room in that same hotel,” writes Aarti.
Asking why we think this is a praise-worthy, uncommon thing, Aarti told TBI that casteism and even untouchability prevails in practices like your domestic help sitting on the floor while talking to you while you sit on the sofa.
“When we don’t stop or question these things, we are perpetuating casteist behaviour, norms,” she says, adding, “Elumalai could not have afforded a hotel room. And his rest, his comfort, was just as important as ours, if not more. So the decision was not too difficult.”
TBI also got in touch with Elumalai, whose contact details Aarti had shared with us.
He shares, “In my 20 years as a driver, I have met not one customer who was as generous, warm-hearted as them,” he says shyly. He adds, “We were supposed to leave early the next morning. But thinking that I may have still been resting, they went out and returned later in the day, when I took them to the other spots before driving back to Chennai. There can never be another customer as generous and kind-hearted as them.”
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Aarti shared her story on her Facebook page so that a few others would be motivated. She maintains that she does such things only for herself, to make herself a better person, but we hope that her post motivates others to contribute to the ripple effect.
Read her post here.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)