Ghaziabad is an industrial town in the outskirts of Delhi, India. Recently, in my visit here, I was travelling in a taxi on my way to meet my clients. It was around 8.00 AM. The driver had just picked me up in the hotel where I was staying. Travelling on the road these days in any metropolis in India is like fitting the pieces in a jig saw puzzle. The crisscrossing of the cars, the two wheelers, the bus and the lorries and heavy trucks, each jockeying for an inch of space and the slightest edge to get ahead, with no regard for lane or safety is truly a Yogic experience! You have to be totally unattached and in unison with every one and their thought processes all the time! Add to this organized chaos, the pedestrians who meander through these maze of vehicles to cross the road, at any moment and without notice, while the traffic has no reason to stop, but for the traffic congestion. Only those who have truly renounced all aspects of fear and attachment can survive this ordeal day in and day out. This is the genuine respect that any driver of any vehicle in India have earned. But, the following conversation took my respect for the taxi drivers one notch higher! As we were moving along, the taxi driver started the conversation like this: “Sir, all these things we have to do, to keep our family happy. I wonder if they are ever thankful for or appreciative of all this effort”. This struck me as odd. Why would the taxi driver worry, if my family was appreciative or not, about my work and efforts related to that?” May be he is referring to the ordeal he has to face day in and day out on the crowded and chaotic traffic on the roads in Delhi? As he continued his conversation the subject became much clearer. He explained to me that he is from a rural village in U.P., one of the northern states bordering Delhi. He is the taxi driver in the Delhi area and he returns home to visit his wife and child, once in four months. They live with his brother and his family. He added excitedly, “I am returning home in two months, when we are expecting our second child”!
Then he returned to his original theme: “Sir, I was driving all night, just returned to the hotel, they gave me a pick up at the airport and as soon as I finished it, I am now giving you this ride. I wonder if all this hard work gets appreciated at my home?” It was all clear to me now. He was looking for some sympathy for his efforts from those he really cares for. Isn’t that we are all looking for?
This was an opportunity to practice my spoken Hindi. So, I decided to continue the conversation. “Does it really matter what your family thinks or appreciates? After all, you will be doing the same thing, since it is your duty to care for them”. The taxi driver replied, “You are correct sir. It really does not matter if I am appreciated or not. Also, if I am unable to take care of them, they will forget all I do now very quickly, anyway”. I could not believe what I had just heard! Isn’t the same expressed by the Saint Adhi Sankara in his poem (Verse 5), in Bhajagovindam (Praise to Lord Govinda) , which translates as: “Your dependents are attached to you, as long as there is the ability in you to earn and save; Later on, when you become old, with infirm body, no one at home cares to speak even a word with you! So, foolish mind focus on your worship to the Lord !!
The taxi driver continued, “There is so much poverty in the village and yet there is so much joy as well. Each time I visit home, I make sure that I buy sweets for all the children and the little boys and girls. It gives me great pleasure to see their smiling faces and their joy as soon as they see me arrive at the village. Also sir, I don’t like to give money as charity to anyone. There is an old couple begging for food in my village. They are both blind. Every time I go there, I make sure they go with me to the hotel and get a good meal. I cannot do much, but this small thing makes me very happy”.
One can write a lot and read even more about Spirituality in Practice. But, when I heard these words from the taxi driver, I had little to say. His words were truly inspiring.