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The most famous share auto driver in the world

| Words by Zoe Crane |

What caused an auto driver from Chennai in India to receive over 2000 phone calls from all over the world? Annadurai has gone the extra mile for his customers. It was a small story that has made it big. Why? Because it is the type of story people like to tell.

India kids

Meet Annadurai.

He started driving a share auto from Thiruvanmiyur to Sholinganallur four years ago. To improve his customers’ experience he offers mobile device charging, free WiFi, over 30 magazines and 10 newspapers to read, and a Samsung Galaxy tablet to browse the internet. This is a charming story, but if it was just about a pimped out auto, it probably wouldn’t have made it out of Chennai. What makes this story so compelling is Annadurai himself.

Going the extra mile

After installing WiFi he bought a tablet for around Rs. 7,000, approximately one weeks profits, but as many of his clients worked in the IT sector he felt they “deserved more” and saved up for months to buy a more expensive Samsung Galaxy tablet. You soon start to realise that Annadurai is not just trying to build his business, he really cares about his passengers.

Teachers ride free

He provides free transport to teachers because he believes “they make leaders and thinkers”and he sponsors a child’s education. His goal is to open a home for the elderly where they don’t feel like they are a burden. He says money is not a motivation for him, but is inspired by the job satisfaction he gets from customers choosing to travel in his auto.

Hitting the big time

He is such a fascinating character that a local student made a short film about him and put it on you tube. A very popular facebook page called Photos that shook the world featured his story, where it really took off. The post received over 20,000 likes and was viewed by 1.4 million people. He became an internet sensation, albeit a fairly modest one, and in the following days received over 2000 phone calls from 35 countries.

Having a story to tell

When planning a holiday you might choose a city, a hotel, even a restaurant to visit, but often the best experiences come instead from unexpected interactions. When we ask our travellers what they like about Asia, “the friendly locals” is almost always part of the answer. I believe that one reason for this is that these personal experiences are unique. It is an interaction that only you had. I think it is also that we naturally seek out a connection with other humans.One of the joys of travelling is finding people that live so differently to us, and yet share our humanity, our condition of being human. And on returning home it is these tales of which are retold. One such story might be about Auto Anna.

If you are travelling to Chennai and book your India tour package through Insider Journeys, we can book your auto trip with Annadurai. And won’t that be a great story to tell?

Have you met someone like Annadurai in your travels?