It was Tuesday evening (10th May , 6:15 pm) I was pissed & drained off by the amount of work I did the entire day. It was not just that. I had to travel back home soon to start working on a documentation which was on high priority. I usually return home evening by bus. And in rare cases by Ola cab. But this day I had no other go. Ola was the only go-to option.
I booked a cab initially. The cab driver asked me to get in , then said “sir can you please book another cab. This is a very long ride. My home is nearby and it’s not possible to go that far and return. I couldn’t say it in phone because you would get angry. Please don’t cancel the booking. I will cancel the ride after some distance so that it counts as a ride for me.” I was too tired to get my anger back on him. I just said sarcastically “I’ll give you 5 stars,thanks for the ride.” He replied even sarcastically ” Thanks Sir” 😪
Then I booked another cab. Mr. Unnikrishnan (4.8 rating , 6 mins away) popped up on my ola app screen. He called me , asked my location and came on time. I got in and he asked “Your drop location Sir?” .. I said “padur”. Usually cab drivers react in a more strange way saying “it’s a long way sir” “high traffic area” “”grumbling”” is all I hear most days. But this guy just said “ok sir . Padur near Kelambakkam right. Ok I’ll start the ride”in a Malayalam flavoured English.
As we started the trip, I just asked him “Sir I guess you’re from Kerala.” He said “yes”. After a brief pause, he started to explain his journey of life and about his family. He came to chennai in 1988 and started working as a driver for a small company then. Then after few years he got an opportunity to go to Saudi. The consultancy that promised to get him a driver job put him under a contractor for field work where he had to carry 30 bags of construction items from one location to another, plus additional site works. He struggled for 8 Months. They promised to give him 5000 riyal initially. And had cheated him in that too. His salary was blocked too.
One day he got caught incidentally by a police and that police happened to be his saviour. He helped him get out of this trap,but all he could get was 400 Riyal. They booked him a air ticket to Mumbai instead of Cochin. He returned to Cochin by bus, stayed few days there and then came back to chennai. He joined as a cab driver in a big company with reference and continued to work.
In his own words, “there were times when I didn’t even have a single rupee in my hand. I felt like crying. But I knew it’s not going to be permanent”
He had successfully crossed many pitfalls, challenges,workplace politics, family struggles, tears and fears. He was even cheated in a land issue but still he smiles while saying that. Now he stands tall. His two sons work in an IT company here in Chennai. His wife is working in a hospital. He is now a very happy man. And he should be.
Never knew a 28km , 1 hour 18mins ride would give me so much positivity and mental strength to forget my “very tiny” problems and handle it with ease.
Thanks Sir. You are a real Inspiration.