I am walking up through the nagar to the office in the morning when an auto approaches from the side lane and turns into the way I am walking. Now you don't see many autos venturing into the potholed tracks of our nagar. But this is Govinda, our locally resident auto driver. He moved into one of the houses nearer to the railway line than mine a few months back, so of course I had started to use him when I wanted to go to the market, and he was great he would wait till the marketing was completed, he waited at the tailors when I waited on my shalwar kameez to be finished, he took a detour to the chicken seller on the way home. I recall that he'd given me a welcome back shout and smile a few days ago when he noticed I had returned here. This time he shouts something I don't catch. I see he has a passenger so assuming it is some Good morning greeting I carry on walking. Then to my surprise he slows down and signals for me to get in. Are the heavens about to open up with another monsoon downpour I wonder? Does he think I am going to the market? Now I know from visiting Jen that auto shares are common in Bhubaneshwar, but here no, if you are to share there is a whole negotiation to go through between the sharing parties and with the driver. It is not an everyday occurrence and something which does not happen quickly. It has only happened to me once when someone wanted to get to the railway station and I already had the auto. This is clearly not a share. My office is only a few minutes walk away but I get in and as best I can indicate that I want off at the corner leading to my office, that I am not going far. I get out, wondering if I should pay something and of course not actually having any change with me, except notes in my wallet in my back pack - damn these shalwar that don't have pockets. But he merrily goes on his way. I smile. Wasn't that nice! He's definitely cultivating a customer relationship - but good on him! A bit like my grocer who now gives me a free bag of water to drink when I visit his shop. I make a mental note to cultivate my auto driver relationship as well.
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