Last week I did a road trip from Mumbai to Pune and back. The journey was almost five hours each time, so I got to know the drivers very well:
One of them was a 30-year old who had been driving different vehicles for different companies ever since he got his driving license at the age of 18. He just made enough money to support his old parents and younger brother’s education. He had no ambitions, and believed he was destined to be a low-paid driver. When I asked him whether he had considered saving up to buy his own car or taxi, he gave me many reasons why not. He was unclean, drove recklessly and kept complaining about the government, roads, other reckless drivers and life in general. He bumped his car into another near Pune but didn’t accept his mistake.
The other was a 35-year old who had a similar background – poor parents, no education – but a completely different life. He had done many different jobs in different cities of India: tour guide in his hometown of Banaras, taxi driving in the North, construction work in the East. He had saved enough to buy a house and settle in Pune, where he lives with a wife and son. He owned two cars – he drove one himself and had a driver for the other. He was clean, drove very carefully and was grateful for his life. His ambition was to travel outside India and ‘see the world’ – starting with Pakistan and Dubai. He was collecting coins from his international passengers to remind himself of the places he would like to see.
How can two individuals respond so differently to the same circumstances? How much of our lives are really in our control? What can we learn from these two drivers?
[Photo taken from the car: a female rider in Pune city]