Gratis rides as a gratitude to the country

He may not have heard of John F. Kennedy or his famous inaugural speech lines, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” He believes his country has given him a lot and wants to give back in his humble way. The citizen goes by the moniker J. J. Hindustani. And every Independence Day he gives commuters free rides in his autorickshaw. He has been doing this unfailingly for the past 16 years.

Born Shaik Ahmed,
J. J. Hindustani, is now about 64 years old, and a father of two. Just as the day broke on Wednesday and when patriotic songs were reverberating across the morning sky from loudspeakers everywhere, he started in his ‘tricoloured’ autorickshaw looking for those in need of transport. “I left from my house in Hakimpet at 8 am. I intend to go on till 6 pm. I must have completed 19
(commutes), clocking around 110 km since morning. It is not just on August 15 that I give free rides, I do the same thing on Republic Day as well,” Hindustani says. Explaining the reason behind the free rides, he says that it is his gesture of gratitude to what the country and those who died fighting for it have given him. A touching thought and gesture, especially at a time when patriotism is becoming all pomp and little substance.

“Everybody knows that we have been living together for centuries. It is just that only a small section of people are trying to divide us. They will fail. This is my humble way of conveying this message,” he says and adds, “I am a proud Indian. In fact, I feel more pride when I think about the fact that I am an Indian Muslim.”

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