A hero for our times



Actor Arjun Gowda has turned ambulance driver to take patients to hospitals, ferry bodies to crematoriums for free

While a few celebrities are heading to their farm houses or overseas to save themselves from the ravaging pandemic, this actor has not only decided to stay put, but also to jump right into the frontline. Twenty-seven-year-old HD Arjun Gowda has taken upon himself the toughest task of them all — he helps covid patients reach hospitals and ferries bodies to the crematoriums. He is an ambulance driver.

Gowda, a resident of Pramod Layout, has been making his mark in Sandalwood with movies, but the months of the pandemic took him on a soul-searching quest.

“During Covid 1.0, I had tied up with many groups for food distribution and other covid relief works. However, Covid 2.0 threw up different kinds of challenges,” Gowda told Bangalore Mirror.

A few weeks ago, when Gowda was at his home, he realised that an elderly woman who used to distribute milk was not being seen of late. When he inquired about her, he came to know that she had succumbed to covid. Her son approached Gowda asking for financial help. “I thought people pay Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 for an ambulance but was shocked to learn that they are being charged Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 depending on the distance and the cause. This was when I decided to help the people in need. I joined an NGO which was helping a lot of people. They heeded to my request and provided me with an ambulance,” he said.

Since then, it has been a non-stop journey for Gowda who has been behind the wheel to help patients. “I have had sleepless nights but I don’t want to complain. My only issue is that in a day, I am not able to do more than two or three trips. One of the reasons for that is that there is a long waiting period at incinerators as they take 90 minutes to burn a body and there are 20 ambulances waiting for their turn. Most of the time is spent in waiting,” Gowda said.

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His heart is wrecked when he sees so many people who have lost family members, lost jobs, money in hospital treatment and taking loans to pay a hefty ambulance fee, he said. He said that he had learnt driving at a young age was proving to be a boon at this time.

But, this job does extract a lot. Gowda has not been home for a fortnight. He said he stays in a big family and doesn’t want to expose them to any risk. So, he has been isolating himself at his friend’s place as his friend is away. Many times, he gets a chance to speak to his parents from the balcony.

Gowda has had a few exciting movie offers from Telugu and Tamil film industries, but as of now, he feels it is more important to save lives or at least give a decent goodbye to people, he said. Gowda has now been given an ambulance by a city-based philanthropist and he hopes to soon have a team that can provide free ambulance service across Bengaluru city.



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Sagar Biswas

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