I hope you enjoy my new series on taxi drivers in New York City. My goal is to ask the questions I love to ask, take a photo, and share them both with you. Here is my first one from New Years Eve. Thanks for reading.
It was 7pm on New Years Eve and I had no plans for the evening. I stopped at Adorama to sell a few things and perused the used cameras while I was there. What worn, yet durable little souls – you know they weren’t all treated well. “Lady, you’ve got some great taste,” the old man said as he peered over the top of his glasses at me. I laughed, thanked him, and left the store. What a success… meaning, no purchase.
It was cold, and I was tired. I waved for a cab and opened the door before it stopped. “Oh hello young lady, hello!!!” I heard, shocked to hear such an exuberant greeting. I looked up and the driver turned in his seat to smile at me. It was dark in the cab, but I could see his long grey beard through the shadows and a purple turban on his head. “Ahhh, you must be going some place nice this evening, no?” I was interested in what he had to say and wondered where he was from. For some strange reason I said: “There is no reason to ever be disappointed; there is too much to be thankful for.” I paused. “Oh, yes!” he said, “and if you meditate, remain truthful, and serve others you will be very happy.” He turned around to look at me while driving through a yellow light. I am sure he was surprised at what I had said. He is a Sikh and their most powerful beliefs are endless service to others, living honestly, and treating everyone equal (no discrimination of any kinds). In fact, back in the day when the Muslims and Hindus were residing in Punjab, India – Sikhism was born because they found it ludicrous that tolerance for other religions wasn’t accepted at the time. “You should care about all things, no matter how different they are from you,” the driver said. I later learned the turban holds their long, uncut hair because it is seen as dishonorable for them to cut it. They can’t interrupt anything their creator intended and allowing their hair to grow is symbol of that dedication. They believe in a god, but it is formless and therefore, genderless. It is the Universe itself, Nature. That is why they find god in everything and everywhere. I asked him what the most important thing is and he said: “If you learn to see and hear things with your heart, you will find god all things – even the things that cause you pain because they will teach you to have compassion.” After paying my cab fare I asked to take his picture. “Whose? Mine?!” he said. We both chuckled, and he turned the light on for me. Have you ever met a stranger, spent five minutes with them, said goodbye knowing you would never see them again, and still feel like you made a friend? I did.