AMRIT DHILLON-SPECIAL TO THE STAR
CHENNAI, INDIA—Many proud auto rickshaw drivers cover the back seat with fancy fabrics such as faux leopard fur, hang tassels and fringes on the side or decorate them with deities or pictures of their favourite Bollywood actresses.
Samson (he goes by only one name) in Chennai has no time for such low-tech practices; he is probably the only driver in India with a website dedicated to his trusty steed and service.
Auto wallahs lead hopeless lives. Every day, they struggle with chaos, honking, aggression and pollution. Their income is meagre. Home is one room in a slum. Between rides, they smoke or snooze. Some cannot even name their prime minister, much less understand the Internet.
Though a school dropout, Samson, 38, turned out to be different. The auto rickshaw stand he operated from was located in front of the Taj Coromandel hotel in Chennai, patronized by foreigners. Some years ago, a regular customer, a Japanese woman, asked him to take her, as usual, to an Internet café.
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