Bengaluru

Ferrying people during crisis is God’s work, says this brave duo

The lockdown has halted Bengaluru in its tracks, but a few are on the move, providing essential services. Meet BMTC driver Muthyala Raghavendra, 43, and conductor Ramesh RP, 39, who have been ferrying hospital staff and employees involved in other essential services for the last three days between their workplace and home. Both Raghavendra and Ramesh are from the Koramangala BMTC bus depot. While Raghavendra is a resident of Koramangala, Ramesh lives in Ejipura. They complete about eight trips between Koramangala depot and Shivajinagar bus stand. Their route covers important spots like St John’s Hospital, MG Road and St Philomena’s Hospital, among others. Raghavendra, who earlier worked as a truck driver, told TOI he did not think twice before saying yes when his department asked him if he’d be willing to work on the special hospital services. “I had observed hospital staff trying to get to their workplace on foot and I felt terrible about it. When this chance came, it was like a calling from God and whatever we are doing is God’s work,” Raghavendra said. Though their families are scared since they have to leave home and are at higher risk of catching the virus, the duo says they are armed with gloves, sanitisers and masks. “We also make sure we take all necessary precautions,” says Ramesh. Raghavendra says, “There is no fear. I feel fortunate to have this chance to serve my country in this time of need.” The two are greeted with some heart-warming gestures from people they meet while on duty. “Several of our passengers have thanked us for continuing to work,” Raghavendra says, adding only 30-35 people travel the whole day in their bus. Even with the Covid-19 scare, they says their duty is a lot less stressful and even fun. “My mood has improved on watching the empty roads. I can feel the dip in pollution level when I breathe, I can see trees. Generally, there is a certain calm in the surroundings,” says Ramesh. Raghavendra adds that driving on empty roads is a joy. “However, we have been directed to drive slowly and make sure we don’t miss out on passengers on the way. Even though the roads are empty, I drive between 30-40 kmph,” he says.