Driving, in twilight of life

72-year-old Krishna Kamath wants to toil till his last breath

Driving, in twilight of life

this is his world: Krishna Kamath in his autorickshaw. dh Photo

In contrast, gutsy men on the wrong side of 70 venture on to the roads in their autorickshaws and criss-cross the length and breadth of the City from morning to late in the night. A typical case is that of 72-year-old K Krishna Kamath.

A native of Kinnigoli near Udupi, Kamath landed in Bangalore in the late 60s and after a short stint as a driver for a nationalised bank, decided to make a living driving an autorickshaw.

“In most cases, the passenger’s jaw drops when he sees me and after he hops into my vehicle, the first question he shoots is, 'how old are you?’ Next comes the query why I am slogging at this ripe age.

No regrets...

“I am tired of answering these questions but I understand their inquisitiveness and I end up pouring out my heart. I don't have sons and I'm blessed with two daughters. The younger one suffers from cerebral palsy. But no regrets...

“God has been kind to me by gifting me a lovely wife and sound health. I will sweat it out until my last breath,” says Kamath.

Though he has lived in Bangalore for more than four decades, he has adhered to traditional coastal diet. “I carry my lunchbox and water bottle,” Kamath says.

What about the other bottle? “Never have I tasted alcohol, cigarettes or chewed pan,” he declares.

Over all these years, every day, every trip has been a learning experience. The City has undergone tremendous changes.

“Those days, there was a great demand for autos, and drivers, especially. There were hardly any good arterial roads. Though we used to earn around Rs 90 a day, we were happy and got back home peacefully. Today, to move from one area to another is a daunting task.

Serving with a smile

“I have never said 'no' to any passenger unless I am heading home in KS Layout at the end of the day. I hardly interact with my fellow drivers. My vehicle and family are my world. A newspaper and of late, a call to my wife during breaks keeps me going. The City has given me so much and I can only return the favour by serving its residents with a smile.”

“No age restriction exists for one to drive an autorickshaw, classified as a transport vehicle,” says Commissioner for Transport and Road Safety Bhaskar Rao.

“Apart from holding a valid driving licence, every auto driver is issued a badge. A medical certificate is required to be produced annually stating that the licence holder is deemed fit to drive the vehicle.”

The mature 70-plus pilots of the ubiquitous three-wheelers have proved equal to the task.

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