The Amazing Story of Annadurai
Reckless driving, harsh language and over priced charges over meters that don’t run at all – if these are the first impressions of the Auto drivers in Chennai, then you better change your opinion or Anna Durai will make you do. Meet the amazing auto driver who has two TEDx talks and a number of corporate training seminars in his name. Google his name “Auto Annadurai” – you’ll find more than a dozen of documentaries being made on him and a list of interviews that have appeared on all the media channels already. Yes he is famous, but what makes him as the inspiration that he is? What makes him a case study for any business any day?
If you are feeling bowled over by the way he has transformed a simple auto ride into an amazing experience, better buckle up for the bouncer that is about to come. Today when even the super markets have a minimum tag of 200 Rs purchase to use a card for the payment, Annadurai has a swiping machine in his auto to make payments of Rs.10. “Paying 5 Rs or 10 Rs was a challenge for many who struggled to keep the change in their purse often. I figured a swiping machine would be a treat to them. After a lot of struggle, I got a green signal from a bank and made it happen. In a way, I feel proud to pay my amount of tax to the country through this” he says proudly.
Now that’s not all of it. The best part of the ride is not just these tech-gadgets but interesting conversations that take place in the ride. Annadurai has a lot of live contests for the customers and offers surprise cash prizes too. Fill a group of GK questions printed on a paper and win cash prizes or answer to the quick questions he posts you with and win instant free rides. He also has these interesting tokens that he gives us when we get off at our stop. A collection of these is bound to give us cash prizes at the month’s end, ranging from 250 to over 1000 rupees.
Anyone who has a load of money can buy all these and deck a similar auto or even a better one. But it’s not about that. It is not the materials, nope. It is the person and the vision that sticks. Annadurai’s search and principle has always been simple. It is the world of the customers and what makes them happy that he has been after. Everything else followed. It is fascinating to see the way he has practiced this principle, something that all the B-schools and corporate companies around the globe keep teaching to the budding managers.
The moment we leave his auto, he greets us with a smile saying “Athiti Devo Bavah” (‘The guest is equivalent to God’). His words are soulful and his smile is genuine. All we can do is smile back from the heart and long for another ride in his auto soon.
It is certainly a ride to remember.