I was waiting in line for a ride at the airport in Dubai. When a cab pulled up, the first thing I noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for me.
He handed me a laminated card
and said: ‘I’m Abdul, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d
like you to read my mission statement.’
Taken aback, I read the card.
It said: Abdul’s Mission Statement: “To get my customers to their destination
in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.”
This blew me away. Especially
when I noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly
As he slid behind the wheel,
Abdul said, ‘Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and
one of decaf.’
I said jokingly, ‘No, I’d
prefer a soft drink.’
Abdul smiled and said, ‘No
problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, lassi, water and
Almost stuttering, I said,
‘I’ll take a Lassi.’
Handing me my drink, Abdul
said, ‘If you’d like something to read, I have The NST , Star and Sun Today.’
As they were pulling away,
Abdul handed me another laminated card, ‘These are the stations I get and the
music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.’
And as if that weren’t enough,
Abdul told me that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature
was comfortable for me.
Then he advised me of the best
route to my destination for that time of day. He also let me know that he’d be
happy to chat and tell me about some of the sights or, if I preferred, to leave
me with my own thoughts.
‘Tell me, Abdul ,’ I was
amazed and asked him, ‘have you always served customers like this?’
Abdul smiled into the rear
view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two
years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like
all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard about POWER OF CHOICE one
Power of choice is that you
can be a duck or an eagle.
‘If you get up in the morning
expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. Stop
‘Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle.
Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’
‘That hit me. really hard’
‘It is about me. I was always
quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an
eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were
dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I
decided to make some changes, slowly … a few at a time. When my customers
responded well, I did more.’
‘I take it that it has paid
off for you,’ I said.
‘It sure has,’ Abdul replied.
‘My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This
year I’ll probably quadruple it. My customers call me for appointments on my
cell phone or leave a message on it.’
Abdul made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like a duck and start soaring like an eagle.
A repeat here, makes an appropriate start for the occasion. Translated, it reads:
‘When you pray seeking a son, god graces you with one.
When you pray seeking god himself, you beget a
It’s no part of our tradition to celebrate days such as daughter’s, mother’s or father’s as far as I recall, though we certainly celebrate their birthdays in line with the family tradition. May be, as many suspect, it’s a very clever marketing ploy engineered and advanced by retail and fmcg industries. So what? It certainly serves as a yet another reminder to us, lost in the daily hustle and bustle, to find time and give special attention to people dear to us.
Mercifully the plight of daughters in our families is not what it was years ago. In many many families, they are more educated than the sons, empowered and financially independent too. Instances of they stepping in where the sons fail in their duty by the family or there are no sons are not uncommon. We’ve known girls exclusively looking for grooms who would let them stay close to their parents and/or financially support them after marriage with their income. A far cry from the age and time when distortions like Sati, dowry harassment and female feticide had over time crept into certain sections of a society (the last two not totally eliminated even now though on the wane) that always worshipped more goddesses than gods. Today one hears of many a glass ceiling broken to smithereens by girls in their single-minded pursuit of life/career goals, often starting off from humble beginnings. Quite often all these while still keeping the structure of traditional marriage intact!
It is these daughters who would be giving India an unassailable competitive advantage – the available workforce just gets doubled at all levels and often with better quality, application and stability.
Rounding up with a visual ode to the doughty daughters – verily, children – trying against odds to making it in life for themselves and their families: