Bangalore: Cabbie delivers masks to passengers at no cost

BENGALURU: Without being discouraged by the panic surrounding Covid-19, a taxi driver is trying his best to protect passengers by giving them masks at no cost.

Azam Khan, 40, a Uber driver, also offers some advice to travelers on how to keep the virus at bay. “I started doing this more than a week ago when a passenger handed me a mask before getting out of my taxi. I was very happy that someone was worried about the welfare of a stranger. That's when I decided to do something to stop the spread of the virus, said Khan, a Whitefield resident.

Since March 1, Khan has distributed at least 10 masks a day. He buys them in medical stores whenever possible and delivers them to passengers who need them. “It worries me more that people go to crowded places. I ask them if they have a mask and they deliver it if they need it, ”said Khan. He buys masks at Rs 20-30 per piece.

Chain of good gestures

Most of Khan's passengers ask him how much the mask costs and many choose to pay him. Some even pay more than two or three masks to help Khan stock up on other passengers. “Some said they want to help me. They asked me to give masks to people in need. It is this innate need of people to do good that makes my efforts worthwhile, Khan said.

Because many pharmacists are running out of stock, Khan often has to make several rounds to get the masks. On Monday, I couldn't find a single mask, although I stopped at more than four stores, Khan told TOI. Sometimes, I even stop during ongoing trips if I see a medical store, as long as the passenger agrees, he said.

Khan asks passengers to use disinfectants and wash their hands frequently. “Unless you insist, I advise you not to opt for AC in the cabin. I have heard that cold surroundings are useful for virus growth, ”he said.

“The taxi is a public place. All types of passengers use it, and I also do multiple tours of the airport. It is one of the most vulnerable places and, therefore, I ask passengers to take all possible precautions, Khan said. He also does his best to maintain hygiene in his cabin.

Father of two children, Khan said he is the most susceptible to the virus in his family. I stay safe with disinfectants and bathe with medical soap as soon as I enter my house, he said.

Genuine concern

One of Khan's passengers, Aishwarya, an IT professional, told TOI that she was pleasantly surprised when on a rainy Friday night, Khan accepted the trip, offered her a mask and left her at the Shantinagar bus stop. “He asked me if I was traveling on an AC bus and said I should avoid it. He was extremely polite and really worried about my well-being, ”he said.