City Season – June Heat, Delhi Autos
The auto driver’s watering hole.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
June in Delhi means burning heat, intense humidity, erratic water supply and irregular power cuts.
Every person in the city, whether rich or poor, finds a refuge to escape from the sun: in an air-conditioned room or 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 force of the season’s wrath.
Just how do they survive June?
One steaming hot morning auto driver Deepak Thakur showed The Delhi Walla the coping mechanism of auto walla bhayyas.
“We tie a wet towel across the steering,” he says, “to prevent the sun’s rays from falling straight on our arms.”
The bigger relief lies elsewhere.
Lifting up his seat, Mr Thakur says, “Here’s our water bottle.” Stacked next to a spare tire, 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 me. The water is cool. Suddenly the heat no longer feels insurmountable. One more auto ride seems possible.
Jugaad at work! Love the idea of keeping the water bottle wrapped in cloth, instead of buying expensive ice coolers etc! Delhi in June is pretty unbearable so it’s good to see these coping strategies.
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