If you stop complaining, you can see the magic and beauty of Life!
Having to use auto-rickshaws in Chennai is no easy task. Most auto-rickshaw drivers lack sensitivity. They are rude. They ply only when you agree to pay over the meter. And almost all of them violate every single traffic rule – they break traffic signs and are sure to enter one-ways from the opposite direction! Over a period of time, I have stopped fighting (with) these guys. I greet them with a polite thank you when they stop in response to my call. I begin the conversation saying, “You turn on the meter and I’ll pay you over that amount when I alight at my destination.” As I engage the vehicle for the journey, I do insist that the auto-rickshaw driver goes per my directions and follows all traffic rules – including not speaking on the mobile phone. Nine times out of 10 this approach works. The only time I fail to get an auto-rickshaw driver to buy in is when he is headed in different direction from where I want to go.
This morning, as I flagged down an auto-rickshaw, the driver went past me and stopped in front of a couple who too wanted to engage him. They were within ear-shot of me. I could make out that the driver was haggling with them for a fixed fare as against plying per the meter. The driver refused to take them on board. Instead he backed up and came to me. I went about the conversation the way I normally did. I was calm and firm. The driver agreed to drop me to my destination. And, surprisingly, refused the tip over the metered fare saying, “Saar, I normally get people who refuse to pay me anything extra. Since you started by thanking me and offered to pay me extra, I want to thank you for being nice to me. Please pay me by the meter only.”
This approach has helped me transform not just the way I experience auto-rickshaw drivers. It has also helped me stop complaining about things around me, and in my Life, that I am currently incapable of fixing.
It is so true in India that we have millions of things to complain about. The state of our roads, the power situation, the garbage on the streets, the insensitivity of road-users that compounds our traffic woes, the mosquitoes, the rate of crime, the attitude of law enforcement agencies – these are among the several issues that affect us gravely, and in the face, on a daily basis. And, of course, if you are in Chennai, the auto-rickshaw drivers are sure to leave you irritated and fuming! As I started using auto-rickshaws more frequently, and as I found a way to deal with them efficiently, I found myself complaining less. About everything. I realized that when we have a problem with a situation, we must either fix it – if we can – or simply keep quiet.
Complaining doesn’t help. It only increases our stress levels and makes us bitter with Life. Much of the rage and insensitivity that we see on Indian roads is a result of pent up anger that comes from incessant and unresolved complaining. People who go on complaining about this or that or the other are never at peace. When we are not at peace with our world, and with ourselves, we cannot see the magic and beauty of Life. To be sure, there is beauty in every context or situation in Life that is available for us to see. It is available 24 x 7. Amidst all the ruthlessness we see around us, there is a lot of kindness and compassion which is still there. For all the disrepair that we human beings cause our cities, the sun and the moon and the stars still continue to rise and shower us their grace and brilliance; the birds continue to chirp and make music despite all the cacophony below. But, of course, we will be able to see all this beauty, experience it and rejoice in it, only when we stop complaining.