Monday Musings 274: James...but not a Bond!
I got talking to my Uber driver named James on an early morning drive. My usual conversation starter with Uber/Ola drivers is ‘How long have you been driving and what did you do before joining the Uber/Ola bandwagon’. Each time there is a different story but this one turned out to be the most enjoyable and inspiring.
The difference between him and others whom I had met so far was clear right from the answer to my first question that came from him – ‘I have four cabs; this one I drive and the other three have been rented to other drivers’. When I let out the cry of surprise, he switched to conversing in English, as if he had sensed that i had made the error of stereotyping him with the classical archetype of Uber drivers. Thereafter it was a fascinating ride, great conversation with a liberal dose of anecdotes.
‘’I am from lucknow and I have done my MBA and have worked in a few banks as frontline seller of banking products growing up to become a territory manager’ he shared with me. I knew I was not with someone ordinary, either in terms of the richness of journey or of grit. ‘Soon I had a house and a flourishing business of solar panels’ he continued.
‘However a business deal gone sour caused the collapse of the business with huge bank overruns. Something radical had to be done to pay off the bank. So with a heavy heart sold the house and paid the banks completely – I did not want my CIBIL ratings to suffer at any cost’. Here was someone who in his darkest hour was more worried about his credit credibility. I could imagine the surge of confidence that lurked within the man who was down but not out.
‘So we decided to send the son back to lucknow so that both I and my wife could focus on rebuilding our lives. I did not leave my home to be a loser – something must be done to keep moving forward’ (this was said in Hindi and sounded more lyrical and inspiring).
So what are your plans in the future, I ask him. I was frankly not prepared for the answer I got. ‘’I plan to repay the banks the loan on all my taxi and become debt free. Then I want to open an NGO. Do you know that many NGOs are working to clean the Ganga in Kanpur? I want to do something around education. You see, when I worked for myself things did not work quite well, let me now try doing something for others – who knows what the outcome will be’’ (apne liye kaam kiya to nuksaan hua, doosron ke kar ke dekhte hain – the hindi rendition was clearly heartwarming!)
Any regrets, in ask him. ‘Nothing actually. Even when I sold the house I told myself, perhaps that is why the house was built – to bail us out during this crisis. The only thing that pains me is that I had to send my son away from me to tide over this. I miss him’.
‘Give me your card’ he says as we bid each other good bye. ‘I will call you when I open my NGO’. I shoot my parting sentence ‘Can I write about you James?’ He smiled but said nothing as if he did not really cared about being written. He had better and larger things to do.
James was a better Bond than all those in had seen so far.