Yet another week in Michigan and I find myself staring at an even more dismal sight than what I beheld the last time I was here. The weather app on my phone shows a tiny grey cloud showering drops of water over the city and sure enough, the view outside is a real life, zoomed-in replica. I walk out of the airport lugging my satchel and trolley bag, engulfed in a mighty overcoat, the tag on which assures me that it is lined with the finest quality felt to keep me warm. The makers perhaps couldn’t comprehend how cold a girl from India can get.
I approach the Metro Cabs booth and shudder at the thought of engaging a cab driver after my past experience. This time though, I am in for a pleasant surprise. My cabbie – Mahmoud – looks nothing like the surly brute I encountered last week. On the contrary, he has clear blue eyes which never stop dancing and an almost musical Middle Eastern lilt. His cheeriness feels as comforting as a cup of hot cocoa on a cold, rainy day. With my luggage safely tucked in the boot and the heat turned up I feel my perkiness come alive.
As we cruise past familiar landmarks, Mahmoud informs me about the Tsunami that had hit Japan. His depth of information on the subject startles and embarrasses me all at once. With a hint of skepticism, I surreptitiously cross check the news on the Internet and am surprised by the accuracy of his knowledge. I realize that in the routine chaos of my day, I haven’t had the time to browse the headlines of a newspaper or pay attention to the newsreader’s monologue on TV. In short, I am clueless about what is happening in the world around me. In addition, his succinct description of the topography of Japan leads me to conclude that he can easily give Geography teachers around the world a run for their money.
Now I am all ears, eagerly waiting for Mahmoud’s next flurry of wisdom. This time I get a brief but power packed lesson in History. He talks about varied subjects like the British colonization of America and the American Civil War. It isn’t just facts that he is rattling off; he has his own perspective about everything he speaks. Mesmerized, I sit upright and absorb everything he has to say. Somewhere in between,the conversation turns philosophical and we discuss the futility of being one in a million rats in the rat race of life. ‘Life is meant to be enjoyed, not frittered away, consumed in jealousy and greed’ he says. I couldn’t agree with him more.
A few more nuggets of wisdom about propane laws and traffic rules in the state are thrown my way before Mahmoud promptly pulls up in front of my hotel. For the first time I am feeling sorry about having covered the distance so quickly. Before I know it, Mahmoud is gone and I am left standing on the curb, a lot more enlightened than what I was 30 minutes ago. In a world teeming with over ambitious, over stressed and cranky people, Mahmoud and the likes of him who are knowledgeable, hard working yet cheerful form a fast diminishing breed. The world would certainly be a more interesting and happy place if there were more of his kind.
Preeti Sharma is an MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies and dabbles with creative writing. As she stepped into the hectic and mundane routine of corporate life, her writing became her stress buster. Her insatiable wanderlust and need for change prompt her to travel as much as possible.