To do as you like

I drive, ok? A vehicle which is comfortable, affordable but not electric. I originally bought it for my mom, in 2014, because when I suggested an electric vehicle the reason for it did not resonate. In 2007 when I suggested a more eco-friendly option to my dad he wasn’t convinced either. It’s been 4 years now and I renewed the servicing warranty, because, I don’t see myself giving it away yet and buying a new one, or a used one. Does it matter?

I’m already bought on living in a more environmentally responsible manner and it translates into my driving. I limit unnecessary trips and try my best to group errands within the same location whenever I can. I can’t say it’s not a headache. The car has long been a symbol of independence, of the freedom to go anywhere whenever you like, but having to think of it as an environmental hazard makes you feel guilty about any enjoyment driving anywhere might bring you.

Where was I going with this? Oh, this wasn’t supposed to be about cars at all, but I posted a picture and found myself, well, explaining myself.

A lovely lady I had just met asked to join me on a trip I was going to make when she learnt that I might need help with Hindi. She was not working now, she explained, and would be delighted to help out, seeing that this was for a good cause. And so I took her up on her offer, picked her up and drove to the intended destination, a popular chai-serving cafeteria.

On the way there, an interesting conversation blossomed. I’m Egyptian and she is Indian. I never lived in Egypt but I visit frequently enough to know what it is like. We talked about the similarities between Egypt and India, colonialism, the sense of personal responsibility, the implications of a caste system, the relationship with garbage, tradition and the current prominence of plastic. The drive was engaging, and once we reached our destination, the experience made the trip worthwhile.

We came with the intention to ask a regular customer of the cafeteria to bring their own cup to the outlet over a period of time and tell us about the experience. Picture a childish sweatshirt donning me in pajama pants and a clueless-looking companion approaching an outlet where unsuspecting respectable members of the public are enjoying their tea break.

This, believe it or not, is what I like to do. We talked about this on our drive back. The fact that I was doing what I like to do for a living, or no living for that matter, since no money is currently being made out of this. There is no financial case for what I do, no incentive, only the thrill that comes out of taking up the responsibility to figure out why we are not going about our lives differently and do something about it. Of course, I am broke, like I have never been before in my life, but my car and I are set until the warranty expires, oh and I have enough for fuel, for now.

For a while, it was hard to convince my parents that what I’m doing is worthwhile. It is still hard to convince a lot of people I meet who always bring up the need to be able to make a living. But until the generation in charge is convinced of the need to change the way we go about our lives, how can we expect to make a living out of working on bringing about that change?

To do as you like is not easy, who knew?