A busy night here in Hyderabad! Had to wait for 10 minutes and finally boarded the cab. It was a street filled with shops on either side and so the vehicles found difficult to move, specially the cars. The cab driver stopped the car for some 10 seconds and I took my seat. This 10 seconds proved to be long for those men who were continuously honking behind the cab. This could easily frustrate anyone at once, but this driver of my cab didn’t even react. He greeted me with a big smile and said, “Hello Sir!”. He had a long beard, with a frameless spectacle but looked little rough on the outset. But, amidst the busy and idiotic traffic, the smile and the sweet words from this man urged me to reply with a smile, “Hello Bhayya”.
~The ride starts…!
And the first question that comes from every cab driver here on seeing you struggling with the language, “You don’t know Hindi Sir?!”
~”Yes”, I replied with a laugh!
“Accha! I’m very poor in English, Sir. I’m not that educated and I’m a high school dropout. So, please adjust with my English, Sir” and I started listening to him with a smile, without knowing that the next 30 mins of my life is going to teach me the most valuable lesson I can ever learn from anyone in this world.
“So, you are not from Andhra Pradesh…Am I right, Sir?!”, he questioned me.
~“Yes, I’m not from Andhra Pradesh”, I replied.
“So, are you from Kerala?”, the next question came up.
~“No, I’m from Tamilnadu”, I replied with a smile.
“Accha Sir! Tamilnadu is a very beautiful place. I stayed near marina beach for three months. The people from Tamilnadu are also so amazing, Sir. They wake up very early in the morning and you know sir, waking up early in the morning is very good for health. It will improve the functioning of your brain and also will improve your digestive system. But people here sleep at 3 AM and they wake up at 10 AM in the morning. That’s too bad Sir and it will affect your whole body and health. But, I used to sleep early and I wake up at 6 AM everyday. I will finish my prayers early in the morning and I strongly believe that through these prayers, the man above will give us all the energy to do our business. Then, we will go out and earn, only to feed all the empty stomachs in our street. We should give food for all and that’s what God wants us to do, Sir. I work from 9 AM to 8 PM daily. I drive throughout the day and so when I go home, my legs will have great pain because of driving. But the next day morning, when I’m able to feed the empty stomachs in our street, I get more strength, Sir”
~”So, how much you earn Sir”, I questioned him and realized that I started calling him Sir.
“I earn 1000 per day Sir. I have certain targets to meet and if I finish all my rides within a specified time, my employer will give me a gift and that is more money, Sir. But I don’t run behind those targets. God has given me enough money that I need for a day’s food. So, I don’t need more and I also don’t want to steal the money that must go to someone in need, Sir”
~“So, it’s 9 PM and why are you still driving. You have finished your daily trips…Right?”
“Yes! I got your booking when I finished my last trip for the day, Sir and I was thinking of cancelling your booking. When you called me to tell your location, I told you that I’m far away and it will take more time for me to pick you up. But, when you responded politely, ‘Ok Bhayya, No problem…I will wait here’, I changed my mind and I wanted to come there and finish the trip. This kind of response and this kind of talk is what we are expecting. But, most people here don’t have that, Sir. Whenever anyone enters my cab, I will try to greet them with a smile and a ‘Hello’, but all of them don’t respond or greet back. However, I believe that this will make a difference by bringing a smile to at least some people who are entering my cab and that’s the reason I keep doing it. Every person who is entering my cab will be different. Everyone’s face will have a story to tell. Some will be Happy; Some will be sad and Some will be angry. But, I wanted them to feel better when they enter my cab and I believe that a smile has the power to do that”
~“So, where do you stay?”, I questioned.
“I always sleep in my car, Sir. My hometown is 80kms away from here in the Bangalore highway and it’s a village. It’s so beautiful though we don’t have these high buildings and busy vehicles there. I go there every weekend to meet my parents, Sir. I will spend time with them and will also spend time with all the people in my village, Sir. During my stay there, the only thing that I will feel is happiness. That’s the purpose of this life, Sir”
~“Trip ends…The star rating screen appears on his mobile”
“Sir, all these stars and rating has nothing to do with our ride. It is the way we talk, share and fill each other with happiness as humans defines the ride. As humans, God wants us to make each other happy and not to fight for rewards. It was great pleasure talking to you, Sir. Keep smiling and help people sir whenever you can. Chalo! Goodnight Sir!!”
~“And I left the cab with a big smile and a ‘Goodnight’ wish!”
So, here came the man in the form a cab driver who claimed himself as uneducated and taught me the best lesson that I could learn in my life and also proved to be one of the great human beings I have ever met!
~Never judge a book by it’s cover!