METRO PLUS

Auto for the people

ABU SYMBOL The man's obsession for the offbeat is evident from his (not so humble) set of wheels

ABU SYMBOL The man's obsession for the offbeat is evident from his (not so humble) set of wheels  



Air-conditioning apart, Abu Bakker's three-wheeler can put luxury cars to shame

Thinking out of the hat could mean using fingernails to carve familiar images out of misshapen lumps of wax or painting a pretty picture over a neatly stacked pile of bottles. Or turning an auto rickshaw into a mobile cinema. Chennai has, among its population, three men, each of whom has done one of these wacky things. Since wax and glass don't fit into what we do, we'll turn to wheels straightaway. Abu Bakker from Aminjikarai assembles and sells autorickshaws. He has always stuck to the formula, except sometime ago when he cut loose temporarily from routine. He has designed an eponymous auto that comes with a DVD player, a drop-down screen and a 750-watt amplifying unit. Its suspension has been beefed up and its tut-tut spewing tail has been muffled with a silencer assembly that is normally used in cars. To create a slot for the DVD player, Abu has effected windshield modifications. Other cosmetic changes have involved changing the shape of the mudguard, using nickel for the wheels and the handlebar. Thanks to neon bulbs under the chassis, in the dark, the auto appears to be moving over a variegated carpet. Abu feels indebted to Raj from Aynavaram for the paint job, and thalaivar Raja from Shenoy Nagar for his innumerable, intellectual inputs for the beautification process. Abu's auto is part of the fleet at the Annai Therasa Auto Stand at Shanti Colony, III Main Road, which is headed by Raja.Bakker does not charge an extra fee for the reel dramas that unfold in front of the passenger. "I drive the auto only in the evening to kill time." Most of Abu customers are those who call him to their doorstep. The man is planning another auto that will put `Auto Abu' in the shade. He is also hoping he will get to act in a film as an autorickshaw driver with a wacky machine. From films in his auto to his auto in a film... we wish him luck!PRINCE FREDERICK

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