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          Taken For A Ride


There is no more stressful an encounter with money than being an American tourist haggling over a taxi price in India.

Not knowing how much the driver would charge a local puts stress on us as a tourist. God forbid we get cheated!

Let’s replace our stress and distrust with love and compassion. Is the driver trying to charge you a higher price than a local? Yes. Why? Because he knows you can afford it. You spend more on a latte than on his thirty minute ride and he likely knows it. That driver spends his whole days sizing up his clients, it is part of his professional career advancement to know just how much he may be able to get out of you. He is no less than a Sherlock Holmes when it comes to the innumerable factors he takes notice of instantly. The color of your skin, your accent, the brand of watch you are wearing, the hurry you are in, the weather (cold and rainy costs you more), the value of your origin and your destination (youth hostel or 5 star hotel?).

Would you do the same in a similar situation? Probably so. Remember what it was like for you to wait for a big break? A promotion or a well-paying job? Remember how you just hoped the phone would ring and you would find out that you were suddenly going to make more money?

That driver is you in a different spot. He is waiting to see if maybe, just maybe, he'll get lucky today. You are his break. Don't begrudge him his break. Everyone has a right to hope. Everyone has a right to wheel and deal in the universe, and just like you, a taxi driver has a right to negotiate his salary. You know full well you can afford to be fleeced, so do it with an open heart.

I'm not saying don't haggle, drive your price down if you want, but don't do with animosity, don't feel anger or judgement towards the person. Don't take it personally. He has a family to feed, he wants to see a movie, have some luxuries, just like you. Inject your love and compassion into the situation and if you can afford it, be his big break for the day. Give him more than he asked for. I have and I full well knew I was being fleeced. It felt good anyway. Seeing it cheerfully as a different form of generosity put a spring in my step, my own blessing to myself.

These situations are put in our lives to help us develop character and move out of the standard mindsets that keep us from living in more enlightened states of consciousness. The benefit of travel in countries like India is that it can open our hearts in a multitude of ways. Refuse to remain unmoved. Embrace the discomfort and it will flow through you erasing years of anxieties and resentments. Devoid of the small worries, your mind can then free itself to enjoy the many reasons life brought you to India.

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