Life wisdom comes from unexpected places at unexpected times. On one particular evening I was making my way from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and I found myself seated next to Mr. AJ from Nepal, a taxi driver-philosopher-extraordinaire. As I got into the car I asked how is life? and his immediate response was, “I am a bad man, I have wasted my life chasing money.” I knew right there, this was going to be an interesting ride.
Making a life in Nepal has become more and more difficult over the past 20 years and as a result, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese are now working outside the country and sending money home to family members. They can be found in countries like Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, and until recently Saudi Arabia. Mr. AJ has tried working in many of these countries but a combination ofhostile politics and racism would eventually land him in Abu Dhabi, a place he doesn’t love, but has come to understand. At the age of 36 he has arrived at a life altering realization, all these years spent “chasing money”, away from his family and the people he loves, have been wasted. The pursuit of material things has led him to the conclusion that he and many people like him have been focusing on the wrong things in life. What is needed to find true satisfaction and happiness, Mr. AJ explains, “is to either help someone or grow something.”
During this long car ride we talked at length about what humans are doing with this planet and with their lives, and what could be done to improve things, and what we as individuals will do in the coming years in an effort to reach that happy place so many of us wish for. It’s an example of taxicab wisdom at its best and a great example of why I wanted to do this series in the first place.