Meet Sai Ram, auto driver by day, rockstar by night

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If you are lucky enough to take a ride in 35-year-old Sai Ram’s auto rickshaw, you will be treated to a wide variety of western music, from Bryan Adams, Maroon 5 to Slash, from his custom-built stereos.

While many have loved it, a few have asked him to shut it off. But Sai Ram is not put off. He is learning the guitar and dreams to perform in Los Angeles with Slash.

“Since I was a kid, I wanted to learn a musical instrument. But due to the financial conditions at home, I could not take it up. It was only after my marriage, and with the complete support of my wife, I started to learn the guitar,” he says, adding, “I do not know how to read and write, and I believe that my wife is my gift from God. Today I have six guitars, a Yamaha keyboard and a drum kit and all of this was possible only because of my wife’s support.”

“Amit Sinha, one of my regular customers’ who works in an MNC opposite my auto stand in Siripuram happened to use my service for the first time in 2010. After I told him about my interest in music during our first chat, the next time when I had met him, almost after a month, he gifted me my first guitar, which he got directly from the manufacturer in Kolkata. Learning that guitars cost almost 50 per cent less if bought from the factory, with his help I got all my guitars. He was very supportive and said that he would pay for the guitar and I would pay him back in instalments. The same with my drum kit; I still pay Rs 125 every month for the drums.”

“I had to give up music for almost a year when my wife had to be hospitalised due to some health complications. It was then that my wife insisted that I get the keyboard imported from the US with my savings,” he adds.

On how he learnt to play the guitar, Sai says, “I started learning from David, a bass guitarist, but soon had to stop. My daughter and son are both going to some of the best schools in the city and to make sure that their education is not disturbed; I drive the auto almost throughout the day to repay the loans for their education. But, whenever I am home, I practice the notes given to me by David.”

“I want my daughter to become a chartered accountant and my son to become one of the best drummers in the country,” he adds.

Listing a few of his favourite artistes, Sai says, “Bryan Adams is my favourite. But I also love Pink Floyd, Elton John, Police, Maroon 5, AC DC, Scorpions, Creed, U2, Bob Marley, Eagles, Red Hot Chilli Peppers; I have the entire collection of these artistes. There is not one song that I would have missed in my collection. When I watched VH1, my wife would write down the song’s name and one of my customers, who is also a good friend, would download them for me.”

Talking about his future plans in music, Sai says, “With the hope of performing on a stage like MTV Unplugged or Coke Studio, I started to grow my hair to get the rock star look. My dream is to be part of A.R. Rahman’s team and one day I am hoping to perform in Los Angeles with Slash.”

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