Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The world needs taxi drivers too

Decades ago, Robert invited us over to his place for dinner when his mother was visiting.  A hyper-energetic college professor he was, who liked to cook too.  Thankfully, he spared us from eating matzos and instead made dishes like molĂ©, which was awesome especially when that was the first time ever for me!

After the initial introductions, it was time for friendly banter.  I asked Robert's mother whether as per the stereotype she was disappointed that her son did not go into a career in law or medicine.  We laughed.

Mike was yet another deviation from the stereotypical Jewish lawyer or doctor.  The well-read and well-informed Mike hadn't formally educated himself after high school and, instead, pursued his passion in machines and was a highly successful at it.  Mike once took us to the synagogue to which he and his wife belonged.  He introduced us to some of the people there--professionals and tradespeople across the economic spectrum, and not the lawyer/doctor caricatures.

In the rut that we often walk, we tend to believe that the paths to prosperity are not many.  In my old days in the old country, the dominant belief was that a life of struggles awaited those who did not go into engineering or medicine.  My fellow argumentative Indian at this blog is a wonderful example to prove otherwise.  But, habits die hard, I suppose:
As many as 38 students — six girls and 32 boys — of the Neyveli Jawahar Higher Secondary School, successfully cleared the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced)-2014. They would be admitted to the Indian Institutes of Technology for the current academic year.
Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation B. Surender Mohan felicitated the IIT aspirants at a brief function held at the Telugu Kala Samithi here on Saturday.
It is quite an achievement, yes, that so many from the same school gained admission to the prestigious engineering schools in the country.  Note, however, that the celebratory event was not held at the school but at "the Telugu Kala Samithi."  What's the connection?  This cultural organization had arranged for "coaching classes" for students.  I can easily imagine that the life of those students would have been nothing but hours in school, hours preparing for tests and exams, and then more hours at the coaching classes.  As long as it all works out for them; but, I worry that there is seemingly nothing done at all to encourage the growth and development of more than a one-dimensional human.

What do the rest of the students from that school do anyway?  After all, with or without coaching classes, not everyone will attend an engineering or a medical college.  
Turns out that the cosmos is always providing us with answers to questions.  It is just that often we are either asking the wrong questions, or are oblivious to the answers, or both.  Yesterday, I happened to catch one of those answers.

The taxi driver, a young man in his early twenties, seemed to be a tad hesitant about the roads and the routes.  "Shall I go via West Mambalam, sir?" he asked me.  I was sitting in the front passenger seat for the obvious reason--to get the blast from the AC vents ;)

"I have no idea" I replied and relayed the question to father, who greenlighted the suggestion. 

At the end of the round trip, when we were two minutes away from home, father asked him if he was new to town.  

"Yes, sir.  Only five months now."

"Where did you come from?"

"Neyveli, sir. Neyveli Township."

We all got excited that the young driver was from the place that has a special place in our hearts.  

"For more than twenty years we lived there" father said.  "All my children went to Jawahar School."

"You say children.  He looks at me and all he sees is an old man" I joked.  I had to.  Else, it is a boring one-dimensional life!

We wished him well as we got off the taxi. 

A Neyveli-born and raised taxi driver.  A couple of years ago, an artist from Neyveli.  How about that!

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