Life lessons from a cab ride on Teachers’ Day

There’s so much goodness in our world. We must pause from running the rat race to notice it though!
Picture shot on mobile camera with available light
Kalam in the red circle
Karthikeyan, the Uber cabbie
Yesterday, when we were riding on Uber, we noticed something interesting on the car’s front inner display shelf. There was a picture of former Indian President Abdul Kalam, who died last month, along with miniature statuettes of Shirdi Baba and Ganesha on the shelf. Kalam smiled back at us, waving charismatically, from an acrylic stand – in fact his presence was more prominent than even that of the Gods’ (who normally adorn car/vehicle interiors in India)! We asked our cabbie, Karthikeyan, who was in his early thirties, “Why Kalam?” And Karthikeyan replied, proudly: “He is my teacher that I never met. He taught me the value of muyarchi (hard work/disciplined effort) and naermai(integrity/honesty) through his Life.”
In a dog-eat-dog world, where even the “safe and secure” Uber cab aggregation service has been mired in crime and controversy – with at least two instances of rape by its cabbies being reported from the National Capital Region in the last 12 months, Karthikeyan’s originality and genuineness made a difference. Besides, yesterday was Teacher’s Day. And what better way to be reminded of two values that can never fail us in Life – hard work and honesty – that too through the Life of Kalam, a great teacher himself and an apostle who lived by and practiced those values till his last breath. The other learning is also this – it is said that if your work can inspire even one soul in your lifetime, you would have led a Life of meaning. And Kalam touched so many, many lives. Will you ever find an Indian cabbie sporting any other Indian President’s picture in his or her vehicle?

Our inspiration: we must live our Life in such a way that people will think of us when they want to be reminded of goodness and beauty in the world. Kalam lived this way. Karthikeyan is living his Life this way. Will you too?
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Khudi Ko Kar Buland Itna…The Kalam Way!

Sigh, I have never met Dr.Abdul Kalam! So I don’t have a picture of mine with him to post here. I don’t also have anything to say of him which hasn’t been said already.

As my fellow Indians celebrate his Life by sharing what they think of him, I feel deeply too. But words cannot express what I feel about him. His presence, his Life and now his absence in a physical form can best be described as an eternal inspiration.

Cartoon Courtesy: Internet
Copyright rests with cartoon’s original creator
Last night as the NDTV newsbreak notification appeared on my phone, I was reminded of the lines that Mohd.Iqbal, a Pakistani poet and philosopher (1877~1938), also famously known as Allama Iqbal, gave the world to live by: “Khudi ko kar buland itna, ke har taqder se pehle, Khuda bande se ye poche, bata teri raza kya hai.” This roughly translated in a practical sense (there are a few exalted interpretations too) means, “Make your self-will so strong, your contribution to this Universe, therefore, so unputdownable, that before making your next destiny, the Creator will ask you for your preference of what you want to be created as.”  

We hope the Creator will ask this of Dr.Kalam. And we hope Dr.Kalam will ask to be created, yet again, as himself, as the most devoted, committed, true Indian that ever lived.


Dr.Kalam inspired us to believe that this Life is unlived and incomplete, if you have not touched lives. He lived this way to make his Life his message. In celebration of his Life, let us live that spirit of humility and selfless service – today and always…