The 25-Minute Inspiring Cab Ride with Nirmala Ford

There are times in our lives when we are sick and tired of all the monotony; desperately seeking inspiration to keep ourselves going but nothing helps. We go through numerous articles on the internet on how to make the most out of our mundane lives and steer our lives to a happy ending; but return home at the end of the day, with the same dejected feeling and sleep it off to get set for another repetition.

16th June, 2017 was just like any other day, I was trying to get through with; but it had other plans.

My office is located at an Industrial Area where it is hard to find commute after 8 pm. Unfortunately (or I should say fortunately), I was not driving my own vehicle that day. Thanks to OLA Cabs, I luckily found one vehicle wandering in my area and booked it right away. Being a frequent user of these services, I was under the impression that this must be a regular ‘male’ driver; so I called ‘him’ and inquired about ‘his’ location. The conversation went somewhat like this:

Me:        ”BHAIYA! Aap Kahan pe ho abhi?” (Where are you now?)

Driver:  ” Aap kahan hai Sir? Main Petrol Pump ke paas hi hoon!” (Where are you Sir? I am near the Petrol Pump.)

Me (Starting to speak gently after assuming that this ‘guy’ has a very soft voice) :              ” Bhaiya…aap mera location follow karo..main udhar hi hoon” (Please follow the location pointed on your map, I am waiting right there.)

Driver:  “Sir, main petrol pump se ‘aa rahi hoon’..aap please batao agar main sahi direction mein aa rahi hoon kya?” (Sir, I am starting from the Petrol Pump now; but am I coming in the right direction?)

So, this is where I realized that the driver I had assumed to be a ‘guy’ turns out to be a ‘woman”.

Me (a little taken back):    ” Umm…aap wahin petrol pump ke paas hi wait kijiye, main aa jaata hoon wahan!” (You can wait near the Petrol Pump itself, I will meet you there.)

I disconnected the call, looked at my colleague and said “Koi lady hai yaar…strange”. I was like a kilometre away from her location so I asked my colleague to drop me off near the Petrol Pump she was waiting at and told him to carry on from there; as I knew it would be difficult for her to locate me in that area. During my pillion ride to the Petrol Pump, I was starting to have those typical thoughts about ‘Women Empowerment’ and how remarkable it is that they are being encouraged to do jobs which were barely considered by women mainly because of the safety issues in India. My excitement to see her  grew even more as we were moving towards that Petrol Pump. I checked the driver’s profile on my phone and it read ‘Nirmala Ford‘.

I called her again after reaching the Petrol Pump, coordinated with her and we finally met.

I had already realized while crossing the road that this was no ordinary cab and it looked a bit familiar as I had read about the launch of those electric cars at Nagpur, Maharashtra. This lady driver  looked a bit old and that made me even more curious about her story. She greeted me with a warm welcome to which I reciprocated with a smile and completed the formalities of that driver-customer relationship. I sat right next to her in the front seat and we started for the most inspiring cab ride of my life. (At least, until now)

Obviously there was an awkward silence for a few metres, as I was still soaking up the joy and excitement of travelling with my first female cab driver. I had a barrage of questions to ask her but didn’t know where to start. Unable to hold it in anymore, I finally broke the ice.

Me:        “Gear nahi hai na ye car mein, huh?” (This car has no gears, huh?) *finds the dumbest way*

Nirmala (The Driver):      ” Nahi Sir..ye automatic hai..etc etc” (This car is an automatic one!)

I kept on nodding to all the information she briefed me about the new electric car; and how this whole scheme was inaugurated just 15 days ago to have a clean and green environment in the city.

Me:        “Okay..to sirf aap hi hain yaa aur female drivers bhi join hue hain uss day pe?” (Was it just you or was the purpose of this inauguration an effort to empower women by encouraging them to join such services?)

Nirmala:  “Nahi Sir aisa kuch nahi..sirf main hi thi aur koi nahi..to shayad main Nagpur se pehli female hoon as a driver for this cab service provider.” (It wasn’t specifically about women empowerment but you can say that I am the first female to be appointed as a driver at Nagpur for OLA Cabs.)

I congratulated her for the great recognition and also told her that she would set an example for a lot of women and men for taking up this role and that too at the age of 52.

Not every successful story begins from a point of despair, but this one did.

Nirmala’s husband, who has now officially retired ,works at an organization earning a minimum salary which never seemed enough to meet the needs of this old couple. Hoping that their children would live with them, the couple had invested all their life savings to expand their house to accommodate their children but no one stayed and simply abandoned this old couple. Without any financial support; Nirmala (48 then) stepped out of the house, to learn something she once dreamt to- Driving a Car! She explained the general tendency of how most women  learn driving but never really become skilled enough to drive at any time of the day. She also told that she used to wear fake glasses while driving her two-wheeler as it prepared her well for driving the car at night with the headlights of other vehicles glaring at you. I could see her eyes shining with passion when she was talking about her training period at the driving school.

By 2017, our brave Nirmala was running her private business of providing cab services to nearby people. Her business unfortunately had stopped growing and she was slowly running out of money (Probably because of the gender bias or social prejudice..just saying..). At this point, I interjected, asking her whether her husband was okay with all this or not. She looked at me with a lovely smile and said “My husband had served me and my children for a long time, I thought it was my time to go out there and help him with it.” I told her that ideally it should have been the children serving you two; but the kind hearted mother she is, laughed it off and said ” Maybe it was not in my destiny, but I truly wish the best for them.”  I was left speechless.

The idea of joining OLA Cabs came to her when she read a newspaper advertisement of the same. The team of OLA praised her for taking this initiative and instantly enrolled her for the duty.

“Don’t you ever feel scared? There are so many unfortunate cases happening all over theIMG_20170616_200356 country.” , I asked her this at the end hoping that this immensely brave woman might fear a thing or two. The courageous woman calmly said, ”Nothing comes easy in life, doing a man’s job being a woman was certainly one of my biggest fears but I succeeded in eradicating it from the core of my heart. When it comes to your survival, you have got no other option but to take that risk. And I hope many more women will also do the same now. You can do much more that simply sitting at home and cursing your fate until you die.”

Finally, the journey was over in no time and I asked her if she is okay with me taking a picture of hers.

“People usually ask for selfies these days you know”, she said laughingly.

We often look for inspiration in Forbes and other business magazines but it never really works as per our expectations. People like Nirmala Ford might never get mentioned in such magazines because they have not made it big in terms of money yet; but are they any less inspirational than those we read about?? At the age of 52,  when people generally stare at the end of their lives, there are people like Nirmala Ford who start with a new mission in their lives. I am 23 right now and complaining already (Hope this life altering ride changes things for me too.)

I have no idea when I will get another blessed opportunity of riding with her again but I know one thing for sure that Nirmala is unstoppable now and her ascend has begun.

Walking home, wearing a smile after a really long time, I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and saw Nirmala waving her hands. I thought I might have left something behind in her cab.

“Please give me 5 Stars if possible.”, She said.

“Óf course! But will you give me your blessings in return?”, I said.

We smiled at each other maybe for the last time and parted ways.

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An Amateur Assignment on Leadership Theory – MS Dhoni’s Impact on Indian Cricket

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“You don’t play for the crowd, you play for the country”- MS Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni; cricketer by profession; captained the Indian Cricket Team for almost a decade. Taking the reins from Anil Kumble in 2007-08; the Indian Cricket Team reached new heights under his leadership and went on to win the ICC World T20 Cup (2007), ICC Cricket World Cup (2011) and ICC Champions Trophy (2013) and also became the No.1 Team in Test Cricket.

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MSD (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) who hailed from Ranchi, Jharkhand (West Bengal Then) made himself a household name in the country right after he won his maiden world cup captaining a young inexperienced Indian side for the first time in a brand new format of T20. Dhoni is considered to be one of the world’s most successful captains and has shown phenomenal leadership skills over the years. Following are some of the traits that are synonymous with Dhoni:

1) Awareness: The Indian Cricket Team had a forgettable run in the 2007 World Cup conducted in West Indies. Following the poor run, Rahul Dravid gave up the captaincy of the Indian side right after. The Indian Cricket Team looked directionless even after having some of the giant names of the cricketing world like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman etc in their squad. September 2007- The first ever T20 World Cup was being organized in South Africa and all the senior players of the team had pulled out of the tournament. The cricket board of India (BCCI) named MS Dhoni as the captain of a very young side who were completely unaware of this kind of cricket as they had played only one game of this kind before entering into a world event. Dhoni, who was known for being an aggressive batsman on the field; only looking to dispatch big sixes off his bat; transformed into a sensible, calm and composed leader. He evaluated the situation accordingly and came up with his best in ensuring a World Cup win for India. This showed how aware Dhoni was of his surroundings; as he realized that the team needed him to play the role of a senior, take responsibility and lead from the front.

2) Decisiveness: There are numerous occasions in which Dhoni has shown how decisive he can be when it comes to the betterment of the Indian Cricket Team or taking a particular decision in a catch-22 situation when everyone else is hesitating to act. If you take an example of the final over of the T20 Final against Pakistan in 2007, Dhoni had the option of letting Harbahajan Singh bowl the final over as he was the most experienced bowler in the line up; however, he went with the decision of giving the last over to a rookie Joginder Sharma who ended up bowling a historic over which led India to its maiden T20 World Cup victory. Not just that, there was a time when Dhoni had to take tough calls in dropping big names like VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag etc from the team’s squad keeping in mind the best interest of the nation considering the fitness levels of these legendary cricketers.

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Even his retirement from Test Cricket which seemed sudden to many, in the middle of the Australia Tour; surely would have been a well thought decision for him as it made way for players like Wridhiman Saha to take the post behind the wickets.Such instances show how decisiveness is one of the most important traits of being a leader and Dhoni showed just how.

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3) Accountability:  Being the captain of Indian Cricket Team can be one of the most difficult and taxing jobs in the world; given the huge expectations of the supporters and cricket fanatics India possess. Mahi and the Indian Cricket Team too went through a rough patch being unable to win on foreign soil, lacking proper technique etc; but MSD always took it on himself whenever India lost a particular series or match and shielded his teammates from being bashed by the media and fans as that might have demoralized the team further. Given the task of leading a group of men, a leader must be accountable for the performance of the whole team including his own and ensure that the faults are rectified on time which he made sure happened eventually.

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4) Confidence: Dhoni’s debatable batting technique was quite unusual and unorthodox; which no cricketing book ever preached. This was the very reason Dhoni was often criticized during his bad days; yet, Mahi was always confident of his own technique and made a major contribution in the team’s success regardless, with not just his leadership skills but his batting prowess too. A very popular example of the tremendous confidence Mahi showed was in the World Cup Final of 2011 – India had lost two of their in-form openers and was struggling to chase a historic target; Dhoni, who was himself going through a rough patch throughout the tournament, assessed the situation carefully and decided to promote himself ahead of Yuvraj Singh, who was having a golden run in the tournament. Dhoni knew that the Sri Lankan bowlers are trying to put pressure on the Indian team with Murlidharan’s mastery of spin and the slow run rate. Since Dhoni was quite familiar with Murlidharan’s bowling style, he was confident of playing him out. Just as the next wicket fell, the whole world was shocked to see Dhoni walk out of the pavilion ahead of Yuvraj Singh. But the night of April 2nd 2011 had MSD written all over it, as Dhoni led the chase till the end and ensured that India finally lifted the World Cup after 28 years.

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5) Effective Communication Skills: Mahendra Singh Dhoni had the task of leading some of the big names in Indian Cricket Team like Sourav Ganguly. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid etc. It is not always easy for a young leader to make decisions and back them when some of the senior members are around. Dhoni remarkably handled this situation and made sure that the decisions were being taken in the best interest of the match situation and the team. Dhoni not just actively took suggestions from the seniors in the team but also evaluated them as per his own judgement before execution without blindly following it. A leader is not marked by age but how well he communicates with his juniors and seniors and Dhoni proved to be the epitome of this skill as the team ,comprising of a mix of seniors and youngsters, eventually flourished under him.

6) Focus: Dhoni not just captained the team but also ensured that the Indian Cricket Team sustained its dominance over a longer period of time. Good leaders plan ahead and establish strategies to implement them. Dhoni knew that the senior players like Sachin Tendulkar are not going to stay forever, hence he brought in youngsters like Kohli, Rohit Sharma, R Ashwin etc gradually to establish their foot in the team before the seniors retire and ensure longevity of their dominance in Cricket.

7) Inspiration: Putting together all these pieces of the jigsaw puzzle called – ‘Leadership’, an image of a truly inspiring leader – MS Dhoni emerged gradually for the world to see. Someone who communicated clearly, concisely, and often assertively; but at the same time; motivated everyone to give their best at all times for the nation. He challenged his team every time by setting high and reasonable objectives focusing on one thing at a time; and then giving them the necessary mental support to pursue these goals and become the best of what they could or where destined to. To talk about the high ethics and moral values of this man, there are very few players around the world who happily step down from captaincy but still continue to give their best in whatever role they are asked to play in the national side.

The case of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s emergence as a great leader can be very well interpreted with the Transformational Theory of Leadership, which covers the full range of essential qualities of a good leader. They are:

1) Individualized consideration: MS has played the role of a pillar in the making of many modern day cricket stars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja etc. This quality demands the concern of a leader for grooming the young pool of talent, catering to their individual needs and be their mentor and coach.

2) Intellectual Stimulation: MS has been identified as one of the greatest cricketing minds of all time and he has consistently shown this skill with his risk taking abilities by challenging the conventional trends of playing the game of cricket; coupled with his unorthodox style of batting, wicket keeping and captaining the team.

3) Inspirational Motivation: With his unique run-out techniques and batting style and his humble beginning, MS Dhoni has managed to inspire a billion lives around the globe. Some of the modern day wicket keepers, young cricketers and sports enthusiasts from other countries even try to copy his style and imitate his demeanor on the field.

4) Idealized Influence: MS Dhoni has carried out the responsibility of captaining the cricket team of a nation like India in a phenomenal manner. With his calm and composed attitude on and off the field, the budding cricketers of today’s generation have looked up to him as their role model because Dhoni has rightfully earned the respect and trust of not just the team members and the home nation but also his opponents as well; by his never ending display of sportsmanship spirit and discipline on the field, regardless his exceptional ability in taking his team past the finishing line in every opportunity he gets.

P.S. – This is a copy of the assignment I was supposed to submit on leadership theory, which I could not eventually. So here’s one for the captain!!

The “F-Word”: Why Social Politeness is Transparent

Quiet As It's Kept

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(Left to Right: Alyson Hannigan [Date Movie, 2006], Philomena Kwao, Essie Golden, Tess Holliday)

For the typical size 18 girl like myself, the summer months bring along the ever complicated dilemma: wear longer clothes that cover up “problem areas” but threaten to cause heat stroke, or throw caution to the wind and go for the shorts and tank top that show every jiggle and bump. Up until my senior year of high school, skirts and shorts were out of the question. The last thing I wanted was for everyone to see the bits of me that made me the most insecure about myself. It was a question of comfort. At least clothes left everything to the imagination; I would rather burn under the summer sun to please others than show everyone my chubby arms and legs.

And that’s when it hit me. It’s not like my body was a secret…

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The day I discovered myself!!

                                                          relaxing park bench man overlooking ocean

First thing that I did right after opening word was set the font size to 20 because this is a big day for me, and hence I will write this stuff in BIG font size only. What a day it has been! Starting low and slow initially; I felt it will be like every other boring days of my life but the way things have picked up since 5:00 pm when I was sitting on a park bench and reading ‘Is it just me’ by Miranda Hart….EXCEPTIONAL!!!

I have been blessed with a life on this planet, to be born in a country like Incredible India and to be a part of a family like mine. It has been 20 years 6 months and 3 days now that I have been just breathing air on this planet; it’s time to do something worthwhile now. Life has taught me a lot of lessons; it’s time to apply them. Aaaah…I have so much to say but don’t know where to start from, so I’ll just go random and empty my mind on this magnificent Microsoft Word page (Thank you, Billy). Yes, I am thankful to all the lives that have touched me in one way or the other and I pray for their happiness and well-being. But, since this day belongs to me, I will talk a little about myself today. I have never felt so inspired before. I want to make use of every second of my life in a productive way now. I can actually feel time slipping out of my hand just like during those gruesome examination hours. Yes!! Life is an exam itself! And you will get your report card when you will be counting the last days of your life lying in a hospital. I want to make my life a success- a BIG success. Well, the first thing that I got to know about myself was I don’t like reading fiction. Although I knew that I didn’t but couldn’t really give a plausible explanation to it. But I have the reason now, I don’t like to be the third person watching the whole act taking place, I like to be a part of it. So, I prefer books which talk to me. And I guess I have actually found a friend in them. I won’t feel ashamed of saying this today that I like reading self-help books. Actually, I love reading them. Although most of them have the same message in the end but I particularly like the way the author of that book narrates/explains his/her theories about life. I realized it today that I don’t have to feel sad about how things are going on in my life. At least I know what I want to do, what my aim is and how I am going to achieve it. That’s all you want from your life. A goal, a dream, a passion!! And you know, once you achieve your goal/dream/passion, your life will be a success and you can then call it ‘meaningful’.  And you know what; I am AWESOME in my own way!!  I am a bit fat and maybe not so good-looking but does it really matter??? It’s not about how you look; it’s about who you are and what you are made of. And I am no monster either, I know I have a very kind heart, extremely affectionate and have a will to help others around me if I am able to do so. At this moment I have been reminded of that Whatsapp status a girl wrote in her profile, it goes like this…

“I love my flaws, I love my imperfections. They make me ‘me’ and ‘me’ is pretty amazing…”

BRAVO!! SUPERB!! You have to accept yourself the way you are!! Don’t care about what your bf/gf will think if you gain weight n all!! And if that jerk/bitch does care about such things, leave him/her, he/she doesn’t deserve you. It’s so important in today’s time to love yourself and have your own identity, if you don’t, you will be stomped upon regularly, treated like shit and most importantly you’ll lose respect not just in others’ eyes but in your eyes too. And trust me you don’t want that.

I am the captain of my ship; it’s me who decides where this ship sails to and who all are allowed to board it. SADNESS! I forbid you! You shall not step on this deck ever again. Happiness is a choice they say and I choose to be HAPPY!! BE the captain/CEO/King whichever designation excites you.

If you ever build a home for yourself, remember happiness is just outside your door so welcome him in the best way you can but please I beg you not to open that door for sadness. He is the worst guest to host! Once he gets inside, it becomes difficult to make him leave. So, have a peep-hole(instinct) installed and never let that bastard enter.

That tip was for how to keep oneself away from losers like sadness. Moving ahead…. be kind to every human being around you. Everyone likes to get praised and admired for what they are and what they do. And since it will cost you nothing, be generous and make people smile.

Let me take this oath then-

I vow to perceive things in a way that pleases me henceforth. Make every bad situation a lesson to be learnt from. I won’t let myself feel low about things that don’t go my way (They say god must be planning something special for you; just wait and watch).

Actually, it’s we who are solely responsible for how our life begins or ends. You live once but if you do that correctly; once is enough. I would like to end this passage with an ancient Sanskrit saying:-

“When you were born, you cried while the whole world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.”

A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

You wouldn’t find a better way to express ‘that’ feeling. Spot on!!

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Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker…

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