118. A cheap ride

Flinders Station

Flinders Station

I just got back from the city, a few hours ago. I went there to try out some night photography. It was nice to wander around those places in city that I never knew existed. Anyways, it was getting late and it was time to get back home.

I hailed a taxi from a spot near the above station. As I climbed into the car, I immediately concluded that the driver was from Punjab – his “bangra” music was on. And loud.

Me : Hi…
Driver : Hello…
Me : I need to get to…..do you know the Hare Krishna temple?
Driver : Ummm…yeah…no….let me see the directory….
Me : Its at….
Driver : Is it at Port Melbourne or South Melbourne?
Me : South Melbourne
Driver : Albert Park?
Me : Yeah…
Driver : I think I know where it is…

And he moved the gear, released the breaks and we zoomed past the wild Valentine’s crowd that was building up on the streets. I decided the time was right to check my pending SMSes on the phone and I left the driver alone. Half way into the ride, I glanced up and I noticed the fare meter.

Me : Why is the fare blinking?
Driver : Oh…don’t worry about it.
Me : But the fare is not increasing…we still have a bit more to go
Driver : Oh…its OK…I turned it off.
Me : Really? Why did you do that?
Driver : Because you are going to the Hare Krishna temple

I was surprised. I was delighted. I was moved. Also, I love when concessions and freebies come from nowhere!

Me : That’s very very nice of you…are you sure..the fare is not a lot. It’s almost half the actual rate.
Driver : It’s alright…exactly 2 years ago, I came to this temple when I first came to Melbourne…
Me : Really? That’s fantastic…Did you have prasadam then?
Driver : Yes…I did…
Me : It would be great if you continued your visit here…
Driver : Yeah…
Me : If you come, I will give you 2 extra gulab jamuns during the prasadam time !
Driver : Ha ha ha..surely I will come now !

With that, I reached the temple. It was getting close to midnight. The driver happily accepted the low fare, said good bye and went away. I stood there watching him go. And I couldn’t help thinking about the incident and if I would have done the same if I was in his position. Perhaps not. In that respect, that taxi driver was far more advanced in character than I will ever be.


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