Normally, I’m a person with passion for all without being judgmental or discriminatory. In fact, I have a special place for the less privileged and make it a point to help the poor and the needy. Yet, there have been occasions on which I have faltered. My decisions have been biased and I have regretted my behavior. I would like to share a story of my duality which still makes me feel very guilty and I wish nothing like this ever happens again. I hope my sense of better reasoning never gets clouded by a moment of weakness.
In May 2008, I was invited to make a Laughter Yoga presentation in Bangalore, India. I reached there on the 21st which was the night prior to the event and was invited by a friend Yossi Ginsberg from Israel for dinner at the Le Meridian which was about 4 kms away from where I was staying. I decided to take an auto rickshaw instead of the hotel cab which would have been almost three times more expensive.
The three wheeler rickshaws in Bangalore are driven by the poor who find it hard to make ends meet. I had heard stories that they generally fleece foreigners and charge unrealistic amounts. I was a little apprehensive as often I am mistaken for a foreigner, and that could have put me in a fix.
I hailed a rickshaw, and the driver asked for 80 rupees which was a bit steep for barely 4 kilometers. I tried to bring him down, but he left. Anyway, there was another but alas he was worse than the first one. He demanded 120 rupees which was ridiculous. By then I was quite annoyed as I realized they were trying to swindle me. But left with no choice I hired one and finally ended up paying 80 rupees much against my will.
Still upset by what had happened, I stepped into the finest and the most expensive restaurants in a five-star hotel to dine with Yassi. Seeing the great ambiance and sophistication, my anger simply vanished and all was forgotten! We had a great time, but it was late and I had to return to my hotel. I arranged for a hotel cab as it was difficult to get an auto rickshaw at that time of the night. A smart, well dressed chauffer welcomed me and asked for 400 rupees. Without batting an eyelid, I just said ‘Yes.’ I was surprised at my own effortless ease with which I agreed. I knew I was dealing with five star rates and did not hesitate to pay an amount 4 times higher than a rickshaw.
As I sat in the plush taxi, I started thinking about my discriminatory egoistic mind which made me a fuss over paying 80 rupees to a poor man, while there I was ready to give 400 rupees without a hitch.
I felt awful and terribly guilty about my attitude. How could I be so thoughtless towards a poor rickshaw driver in trying to safeguard my ego and social status? In a moment of lapse, my finer sensibilities had been seized by petty reasoning. I so wished I could have met the auto driver again and apologized to him.
I had learnt my lesson. Never again was I going to bargain with a poor man for a paltry sum. It was quite a realization. In fact, now I make it a point to tip them over the usual fares. The smile on their face is so rewarding. What’s with parting with a couple of extra bucks? No big deal; it’s worth it.
About Dr. Madan Kataria
Dr. Madan Kataria, was coined by the London Times as the ‘Guru of Giggling.’ His invention has grown into a worldwide movement of more than 6000 Laughter Yoga clubs in over 60 countries, and has been covered by prestigious publications like TIME magazine, National Geographic, and the Wall Street Journal and been featured on CNN, BBC, US networks and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Dr. Kataria is a keynote and motivational speaker for companies, corporations and organizations all over the world. He has done seminars and workshops with IBM, Hewlett Packard, YPO (Young President Association), SAS and Emirates Airlines, Volvo Automobiles, Glaxo Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Manpower and Social Welfare, Singapore Government, Western Australian Parliament, Dubai (UAE), and HRD Congress Malaysia.
To learn more about Dr. Madan Kataria, please visit www.LaughterYoga.org