The Taxi Ride

Dr. Janki Santoke,Speaking Tree, March 26th 2017

Uber?’ Arjun asked hurriedly. Getting in to the cab, ‘Come lets go quickly, I am really late.’ His driver turned around and smiled at him. ‘Sure’ he said. Arjun looked and his face and smiled back. It was a face one instinctively smiled at. But worked called. He was late for this meeting and there was one scheduled immediately after. Opening his laptop he sighed. How long it takes to come on! Looking out of the window Arjun exclaimed ‘O my God look at the traffic. I’ll never reach!’ ‘When there is nothing one can do, why not sit back and enjoy the ride?’ said his driver soothingly. Arjuna looked at him and was calmed. Looking out of the window his thoughts flitted to his girlfriend. Was 26 too young to contemplate marriage? Were they compatible? She was really pretty but he had detected a stubborn streak in her. Sigh. But is anybody ever perfect? Do we fight too much? What if it didn’t work out? Aloud he said, ‘Why is life so complicated’. His driver glanced at him through the rear-view. ‘Life is not complicated Sir, we make it complicated.’

Arjun wanted to believe him but it just didn’t fit.

‘What’s that even supposed to mean?’ he asked a little aggressively. The pressure of his life was beginning to show on Arjuna. People had always used to remark about him being so well behaved. His driver gave him another look. He seemed like a soul in torment. And yet looking at him all seemed well. Young, handsome, well-mannered, ordering a luxury cab. A symbol of all the trappings of happiness trapped in unhappiness. ‘Complications in life are caused by our mind. When we do impulsive, indiscriminate actions, life gets complicated. When we are governed by our intellect, when we consider consequences and then act, we are freed of pressure.’ Arjuna stared guiltily. He had woken up late because he stayed up watching TV. Then there had been a mad rush, he hadn’t prepared for this meeting. Yes, he could see that his unplanned work was causing him pressure. But wait a minute. When my boss is rude to me, how can that be my mind causing the pressure. He is being rude to me. I am doing nothing! He argumentatively put this point to his driver. His driver laughed. Obviously Arjuna had tuned into the conversation. He was understanding the point but not completely.

The driver replied, ‘When the boss is rude to you, he takes up 5 minutes of your time. When your mind gets involved, obsessed with it, it takes up all your day. You are unproductive and unhappy. So who spoilt your day? Your boss or your mind? Don’t brood, take correct action! As they say, don’t get mad, get even. Consider if you need to do anything. If yes, do it. If not, ignore it. Get on with the rest of your life.’ ‘But I can’t’ wailed Arjuna. ‘Why can’t I do this? It sounds so simple.’ ‘We can’t do it because we have not developed our intellect. It takes a strong intellect to govern the mind and stop it from slipping in to the past or future. Yet unless we are able to do this we cannot be productive at work. The mind will forever distract us, agitate us and bring down our productivity. In fact, said the driver again glancing at his passenger, ‘it is the same mind that complicates our relationships.’ Arjuna started. He had been wondering if impulsive actions spoil relationships too. Was that why there had been disharmony between them recently? Hmm. Maybe I should not have insisted she come out with me when she didn’t want to come to that play. Maybe I should not have responded in anger to her demands the other day. Hmm. Ya, makes sense, be thought. ‘By the way’ Arjuna asked the driver, ‘what is your name?’ ‘Krishna’, he smiled, ‘it’s been a pleasure meeting you…’