The Driver’s Spirituality

Somehow my India stories never seem complete without a driver’s story thrown in. So here goes…

Our driver for the day was Shiva or Murugan. Let’s call him Shiva. Shiva was a nice guy. Young-ish. He had a smile on his face and a can-do attitude in his stride. He was told that his duty in the cosmos that day was to take our family to the airport after stopping at a temple enroute. He smiled and nodded. He did not seem like a spiritual person himself but seemed happy to come along.

I told you about how we travel haven’t I? (  We had 3 large suitcases that needed to be hoisted atop the car and tied firmly with rope, or 3 large adults to be strapped and hoisted atop the car. Shiva chose the luggage to hoist on the car because he thought the people would be better company in the car. Well..I suppose everyone makes mistakes.

The family is generally genial and noisy and out-performing each other in the talking department, but this trip had it all stripped.

Now, imagine a broadway show where the cast introduction is bound to start and 2 major characters are missing because they were off visiting their uncle, who’d graciously offered to take them on a grand-tour of his new office parking lot. Backstage meanwhile, tempers run high…scripts are modified in the last minute to blend the introduction without the parking lot tourist characters, hoping against hope that they would make it in time for their real character scenes. Then, just a minute before the curtain goes up, the characters arrive and the whole cast shouts at them for being late. Not only that, tempers are running high because the script-writer has been ticked off for not being quick enough at redrafting the whole play without these characters, the orchestra is being told to cut out songs about these two characters and add extra ones about random characters instead and the percussionist had a few things to say to the drummer about this and all in all, melee reigned in the circus tent.

That was the scene back at the old home. The brother-in-law and sister-in-law went a-visiting somebody, got held up and came back bitingly late. Meanwhile, things were heating up to baking capacity nicely inside the home. An injudicious remark here and a callous remark there was enough to set some tempers going. The remaining were taken care of by the lack of electricity. Let’s just say that by the time the family piled into the car, the atmosphere was icy. Poor Shiva the driver watched the scene for a while and then decided that he couldn’t bear the quiet anymore and switched on a movie to keep his sanity.

It didn’t help that Shiva did not have rope on his person to tie the suitcases up and we had scrambled for rope at the last minute. The father-in-law kept kindly pointing out to him every 3 miles or so about the benefits of any driver keeping rope with him. Shiva might have been okay with the 3 minute reminders if it wasn’t interspersed with 2 minute reminders to ask somebody for directions. (I had my reservations on the driver-keeping-rope-handy theory – Shiva looked ready to hang himself, and readymade rope would not help matters, would they? )

All in all, he decided to trust to a greater power and switched on a movie about two elephants(one mad and the other not quite) and a bunch of lovers. The movie that Shiva had banked on to raise our spirits was doing its job at a snail’s pace. Jokes were eliciting a grunt every now and then, and the coldness in the car was melting. Once when I commented about how wonderful the songs were, Shiva said that they were the best part of the movie, since it was a tragic one and we’d all be pulling our tissues by the time the movie ended.

To everyone’s stupendous relief, the car rolled to a stop in front of the right temple, and the temple was open after all. Not only that, there was a huge elephant. Now call that uncanny. The temple elephant was decorated beautifully. In a moment, the family’s mood lightened. The children were awe-struck by the elephant and went in turns with their affectionate grand-father to touch him.


A short visit inside the temple and the family was miraculously back to being the gregarious-guffawing-silly_jokes lot.

If anything were to convince Shiva about what God really meant to people’s hearts the question was amply answered for him that day. A turning point in his life. I mean look at the facts:

Input: Morose, quiet, brooding family
Output: g-g-sj lot

To make matters worse, when we piled back into the car and the movie came on again; it tried its best to get us to turn on the hosepipes, but nothing happened. We laughed at the misery in the movie and called the director a dumb fellow for whatever he was doing.

Shiva either thinks that we are a family to gains love and laughter by going to temples, or thinks of us as potential clients to some excellent mental health hospitals he has heard of.

10 thoughts on “The Driver’s Spirituality”

  1. “I had my reservations on the driver-keeping-rope-handy theory – Shiva looked ready to hang himself, and readymade rope would not help matters, would they? ” – Laughed out loud to get noticed by my colleagues 🙂

    I think you should have extended the second part a bit more. It is like reading a short story which ended little too soon.

  2. You’ve outdone yourself on this one. I was guffawing while sitting by myself at a restaurant in Inverness!!! Not a pretty sight I tell you 🙂

  3. Very nice example. Even though you covered most part but you forgot to mention how we upgraded the driver’s driving license from light motor vehicle to heavy motor vehicle license :). I completely agree with Prem this story had lot more fun during the return journey

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