Lift Please – Are you going in the same direction?

Other day, I was watching the new Sprite ad on TV where a guy with a bike outdoes a guy with a car, apparently staged around the concept of hitch-hike or in common parlance, lift.

I thought the ad is flawed, who gives and takes lift these days? The person giving the lift thinks – you never know who the person is, a creep may be or a thug, and the person taking the lift thinks exactly the same. And in cities, if a guy asks a girl standing on a bus stop for a lift, we all know what the assessment of most people would be in such a case. Finally, there are movies like Road or hitch-hike, that present all gory details of giving lifts.

Lifts used to be such a great help earlier – when I had limited money and no vehicle, lift was like a godsend. My college was in a totally godforsaken place, on the highway in Greater Noida – when the only habitant of that place seemed to be couple of colleges, their students and faculty members. Lift was our saviour, and definitely a mode of travel when all other options like commuting with fellow student who had cars or the college bus were exhausted. The great help came in avatar of cars, scooter and bike riders,  trucks, tractor trawlers, auto-rickshaws (incredible!) and virtually all sorts of vehicles possible. The thrill of saving 10-20 bucks from those bloodsucking DTC and Private buses was immense; and the money was obviously diverted on other excursions.

That was then, 12 -13 years ago. Now, tables have turned. I am behind wheels and travel through a highway. I am fully aware of surroundings and perils of engaging with strangers, especially lifts. I again thought the sprite ad is bakwas, lifts are passé..

Then only couple of days back, I was again passing through the highway and just to reconfirm the route, I asked about my destination to a couple of guys standing near the bus stop. Standing along with those guys was a very old man, fondly called “Tau” in this part of the world. He asked me whether he can come along as he is going in the same direction. I just gave a glance in Tau’s direction and said hop-on.Tau was my co-passenger for around 25-30 KM in my long journey of 180 KM. While driving, I thought WTF, I am sitting with a complete stranger on a highway! I was really pissed off at my decision to re-confirm the direction and agreeing to give lift to Tau. I started to casually chat a little with him. Frankly he was not able to understand most things I was saying and the same is true for me. But like most Indian conversations among strangers, we talked about crops, politics, schools and colleges, weather, four-laning of roads, the new highway cutting across farms, and so on…

Gradually, it became better and one more glance at Tau made me realize that had I not been in the scene, old man would have waited for the roadways bus to arrive and probably reached at the honourable roadways driver’s pace. I have probably saved him some hassle and time, which he may or may not feel happy about.

After dropping Tau at his destination, rest of the journey, I was contemplating the trust deficit between two unknown, unrelated persons in today’s world. The situation is alarming and we are being too paranoid / cynical / insecure by putting all fellow human beings into one basket. Partly the reason why most people are left to die on the road. But then, we read newspaper reports and Police advisory on Highway commuting…Better safe than sorry?

On second thoughts, Sprite TV Ad may not be flawed – lifts may still be in vogue, somewhere.

How Far Can You Go for Your Passion?

Passion (Pash-uhn):  a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.

Probably one of the most frequently used word by the young generation today.  Everyone’s just looking for what they are passionate about. Be it choice of a career, a sport they play, person (or persons?) they love or simply something that they just love doing. One needs to be ‘passionate’ about something or you are just wasting your life.

The generation before me (born in 70’s), and to some extent my generation (born in Late 70s / early 80’s) didn’t attach so much importance to passion. It was a ‘good-to-have’ criteria. Good if you have taken up your hobby / liking as a job, good that you could marry the girl/boy of your choice, good that you keep on harbouring your passion despite a complete lack of interest in other areas of life. 

As a result, lot of folks, have their ‘moment of passion’ in later stages of their careers, post marriage, post children or even after reaching the pinnacles of their career. And then they follow their passion with much more conviction and purpose. I must mention about a dear friend of mine, who despite a so-called-successful career (and much more ahead!) would rather choose baking cakes over utilization of technology for better sales and operations. For baking cakes gives him joy and satisfaction like nothing, and he sees his future as a Chef rather than a CIO. Hats-off to you my friend!

Similarly, one of my friend and ex-colleague has gotten through the much-coveted galleries of Ivy League and would be taking a two-year program in US. This is post his marriage of two years (no kids though), and his wife will not accompany him – instead, she is focussing on her own passion working at grass root levels in rural India, in an NGO.

Rules of the game have changed today – the present generation puts passion before anything, and seems to be much clear in their thoughts very early in their lives and the best part is, they are not afraid of making mistakes. The change is indeed infectious and these guys / girls have become inspiration for lot of us who are still struck in second gear. For this generation, it has become a way of life, the formula of being accepted and recognized socially – with or without support from parents / other stakeholders.

Coming back to my generation and generation before, If I look around at my elders and peers, we like to play safe – Like to be in complete agreement with the theory of risk taking capabilities being inversely proportional to age. We evaluate, look at pros and cons, compare as-is with to-be and more often than not, return to our current state, accepting it as some kind of reality that we can’t change. For us, the reality takes precedence over the happiness to be attained through following your passion. Its almost like one in hand is better than two in the bush. But then, you must make peace within or you will keep lamenting your decision, reflecting in your work, personal life, and everywhere…

So, its a big decision, similar to that in front of  Chaitanya in this wonderful short film (in Telugu, with English subtitles) on similar dilemma, ending with a beautiful conclusion to choose between  – “dying once or dying everyday?” Alas, not everyone is as lucky as Chaitanya to get to travel in future and compare the  better of two states, for life is cryptic code that looks easy if we look back and impossible to crack if we were to see our future.

All said and done, it all boils down to one question – How far can you go to follow your passion?