I was reading this book called “When strangers meet” by Kio Stark, gifted to me by a colleague, who also happens to be a very good friend of mine. The name itself was so intriguing that I couldn’t stop reading the book. It has some genuinely nice insights about interacting with strangers.
I reached home from work and started packing my bags, as I was supposed to travel to Munnar (Kerala) for a 4-day workshop. My flight to Cochin (Kerala) was booked for the next morning and in order to avoid any hassles in the morning, I pre-booked the cab thereby allowing myself to sleep for 10 more minutes; morning sleep is truly the most precious. Luckily, the cab arrived on time. I boarded and made myself comfortable on the rear seat. A lovely song, in fact one of my favorites, from a hindi movie was playing in the car. To be precise, “Sach keh raha hai deewana” from “Rehna hai tere dil me” was playing. Since, I was travelling to an exotic location Iike Munnar, I was anyway in a very good mood and this song added to the glee. Just by entering the car, I started dreaming about the tea-gardens of Munnar and its lovely weather.
I thought of interacting with the cab-driver, just to make sure that I am putting my learnings from the book into practice. To start the conversation, I asked him where does he live in Mumbai, to which a quick response came, “Mahim” and then there was silence again. I was expecting that this question itself will initiate the conversation, but I was wrong; dynamics of every human interaction are different. So, I started to think about something else to keep the conversation going. Then a thought hit my mind, of going into reverse psychology, so that he’s bound to ask me a question. I told him to stop the music and to my delight, the plan worked, he asked,
“kya hua saab, aapko gaana pasand nahi aaya” (what happened sir? did you not like the song?).
Now I got a chance to keep the conversation going, I told him,
“nahi nahi, ye bahut achcha gaana hai, balki mera favorite hai”, (No, the song is really nice and in fact one of my favorites)
My response completely took him by surprise. Baffled to hear this, he said,
“arre agar pasand hai to fir band kyu karwa diya”, (if you really like it then why did you ask me to stop playing)
I told him that because I wanted to talk to him and music was the hinderance, that’s why I asked to stop the music. Hearing what I said, he got even more puzzled.
While now the conversation had started, I asked him, where did he belong to, as in where was his “hometown”, to which he answered “Begampur, a village near Allahabad”. Just to give him a little more ease, I shared with him that my hometown is also in the northern part of India and it is in Dehradun. By now he got a little comfortable talking to me and we discussed lots of things ranging from Mumbai rains, Marine drive, Vada pav, etc. I think we were around Chembur, when he stopped the car and got out to get pan-masala for himself. He came back in a minute’s time with his mouth full of some strong-smelling pan-masala. I really don’t like pan-masala and have always had this question as to why people consume it.
Since we already had got comfortable interacting with each other, I couldn’t stop myself asking him about this habit of chewing pan-masala, however his response left me thinking even after I got down from the cab.
He replied by saying, “this is something that keeps him going”, and somehow, he already anticipated my response to it and therefore continued by saying, he knows this isn’t good for his health but anyway we all have our drives and passions which not necessarily are good. Now I guess, it was his chance to take me by surprise. I really got perplexed and asked him to explain what exactly he meant.
He answered by saying, when you booked this car you had a choice of booking “Uber go” also which is comparatively less expensive and you could have saved money, but you didn’t do that, rather you went ahead and booked “Uber Premier”, why because travelling in a luxury car is something that gives you a kick. Same goes for me, consuming tobacco gives me a high. We all have our drives, for you maybe luxury or comfort is something that gives you a high and for me it is tobacco.
To be candid, I was not prepared for this kind of an answer. Although, I completely disagree with his justification of consuming something as harmful as tobacco, but the fact remains that he left me thinking about it.
Yes, we all have our passions and drives and there’s always something that we do because of certain emotion attached to it and that emotion could be anything from luxury to comfort to status, etc. I think we must be mindful of all the activities that we keep doing as they slowly become our habits and before we even realize we become addicted to them. Its good to pamper yourself, however it is also of great importance to understand, is it actually pampering or does it harm you physically, financially or may be mentally.
More often than not, we get muddled between
“what is a passion and what is an addiction?”.
Actually, there is a very thin line of distinction between these two. In fact, any passion can turn into addiction. Addiction as we define it, “is a repeated behavior even though it is harmful.” I guess, if in doubt, we must ask ourselves, “given the harm, am I willing to stop?” and If the answer is no, “you are addicted”.