I have sat down with celebrities for interviews and I have also sat down with security guards to know about their lives. While the former educated me about the glamour world, I learned a lot about life and its difficulties from the latter.

I went on a vacation with my family to Australia, and even though we traveled in our own car most of the time, we booked cabs on some days, which surprisingly had desi drivers. The heartwarming conversations with them made me wonder about our lives and luxuries – that we often take for granted.

I started off by talking to a driver from Punjab. He mentioned that even though he liked his laid-back life here, he often missed his country and family, back in his hometown. He sweetly asked me if I had been to the most famous mall and beach in the area because they were too amazing to miss. When I told him that I had, he suggested a couple more areas worth visiting, which I later went and he was absolutely correct. 

“I sometimes miss my nation and hence, I keep this Ganesh Ji’s idol that I bought from my hometown in Ludhiana. Wait, have you been to the Chadstone Mall and Brighton Beach yet?”

After the conversation, I realized how these desi drivers might have a better life abroad, but still miss their families who are thousands of kilometers away – which we often take for granted. 

I met the next desi driver when I was coming back home from the city. The Pakistani driver mentioned that he came through an illegal way to this country, in order to search for a better life, and it wasn’t an easy journey. He had a strong desire to study and work at a big company, but he couldn’t – since he was an immigrant and had no passport. He seemed calm while talking, but I could sense sadness through his words, which was heartbreaking.

“I came here through the underwires when I was 16. I wished to get a degree but couldn’t because I had no passport back then. Even though I earn well, I can’t call my family here because I have been an immigrant.”

While we complain about our lives and work, sitting on a comfortable chair and with air conditioning on, drivers like him struggle for good jobs, even when they have the talent.

Weeks later, after I spent the entire day at the zoo, I decided to book a cab to reach my next destination – a break room in the city. And, the cab that arrived had a very familiar scent – of incense sticks. I instantly knew the driver was a desi, and he was. The driver, in his mid-40s, asked me to call him uncle, which I happily did. 

He mentioned that he has been working as a driver for seventeen years there, and even now, he feels happy when he meets a fellow desi. He showed me an adorable picture of his family and excitedly mentioned that they will be here soon. 

I’m from Punjab and I have been working here for the last 17 years. I also have a wife and child back in India. I hope to call them here soon because now I feel that I’m financially stable.”

It’s rare to find contentment in someone else’s bliss, and I truly, with all my heart, felt happy for uncle that day. I hope his family comes to him soon so that he can actually live the life he has always dreamed of.

The conversation with the next driver broke my heart a little. He mentioned that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and how he dealt with racism. Nevertheless, he said he was content with his choices as he could at least feed his family with the money he earned. Later, he excitedly asked if we liked Atif Aslam back in India, to which I, quite literally, shouted, yes!

“I do face racism most of the time since I’m from Peshawar – which reminds me, Atif Aslam had a concert a few months back here, do you like him in India?”

These drivers go through all these terrible things that can break them down and yet, they get up and only become stronger. Their resilience and hard work are definitely something that we should learn. 

After a month-long vacation, when I was ready to come back, I booked my last cab to reach the airport. As the universe had intended, my last driver of the vacation was a desi too. This young man was a student and also worked as a chef, apart from driving. He mentioned that being a driver is a risky business, one little mistake can have bizarre consequences. 

“I study at the university and work as a chef and cab driver as my part-time jobs because, with any little rule break, drivers lose their life earnings in a second.”

These desi cab drivers have left their families behind for new and better lives. Even though my heart was smiling, I felt a little sad for them because more often than not, we fail to acknowledge their existence and difficulties. 

After having these conversations, I realized that their lives are tougher than most of ours are and we can make their days a little better by just having a simple conversation about them and their lives. I now make a conscious choice to hear the cab drivers out when they have something to share – who knows we might learn something new about life from them.