City Season – Auto Driver’s Summer Heat, Around Town
Coping with the extremities.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
May and June in Delhi means scorching heat. Sometimes, the brain seems to dissolve if you happen to walk on the road under the noon sun.
Every person in the city, whether rich or poor, finds a way to escape from the hostile sun. Some find a shelter in an air-conditioned room; many others seek it under a tree. This convenience is not available to at least one category of people: the auto-rickshaw drivers.
Since the auto rickshaws are open on both sides, their drivers take in the full blast of the season’s wrath.
Just how do they survive the weather? One steaming hot morning, auto driver Deepak Thakur showed the coping mechanism of folks of his profession.
“We tie a wet towel across the steering,” he says, “to prevent the sun’s rays from falling straight on our arms.” One other auto-rickshaw, however, also had a hand-fan tucked on its roof, and another had its metallic roof lined with cardboard sheets.
Lifting up his seat, Mr Thakur says, “Here’s the water bottle.” Stacked next to a spare tyre, the plastic bottle is packed in a red fabric. “We wrap it in a cotton cloth. The evaporation keeps the water cool.”
Mr Thakur opens the blue lid and drinks the water making gurgling sounds. The water drips down to his chin. He offers the bottle to his interlocutor. The water is cool. Suddenly the heat no longer feels insurmountable. One more auto-ride seems possible.
The auto driver’s summer