On the last day of the retreat, where we broke our vow of silence and practice talking again, I have the pleasure of hearing a very interesting travel story.
Jason and his girlfriend were in India. They were hailing taxis to take them to a local festival. When one driver offered the ride for 5 rupees (instead of the usual 70-80), the couple were intrigued.
Since they had nothing planned for the day, they went along for the ride.
Arriving at a rundown building bearing a sign with the same name of the festival, the pair began questioning where they were. With Jason’s girlfriend speaking Hindi, the driver let up and told them his scheme.
Taxi drivers would get gas cards for taking fares to these fake-stand-in shops.
Some stores only give out cards if the fares bought something; but others only care that people browsed. Many drivers would offer these fake rides so they could afford to keep driving, even if it means getting an earful or more from the tourists.
Instead of being mad, Jason got curious. He asked the driver, “Would you like to fill up your tank today?”
The driver was confused. “Take us to these shops that will give you gas cards just for having us browse,” Jason said, “we got all day today.”
Off they went to these stores.
At the end, the driver got a fistful of cards and thanked the couple. But the traveling pair didn’t walk away with nothing.
They figured out how to cab anywhere for 5 rupees by hopping between these shops as landing spots in the city.
We can navigate life with ideas that benefit us without harming others. Vipassana teaches us to see things as they are, with a heart that flows with good will for everyone. Jason’s story reminded me how we can be mindful and helpful anywhere.
Curiosity doesn’t have to kill the cat if one walks with clarity.