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A Helping Hand in New Dehli

Arun ponders the nature of existence during a recent trip to India
Feature by Arun Sood.
Published 09 October 2008

The toothless tuk-tuk driver grinned and proclaimed in his strong Indian accent :

“In the grand scheme of existence, we are all one and the same; each of us with five fingers and five toes...only I have six fingers.”

Sure enough, the frail old man did indeed have six fingers and each one waved me a fond farewell as he pedalled away from me a whole 10p richer than before. While his fee would probably earn him the comfort of a single cigarette to see through the rest of his day, I felt I had gained so much more in our short time together weaving throughout the Wacky Races-esque traffic in New Delhi.

Without realising it at the time, my six-fingered friend known only as ‘Baba’ had awakened the inner feelings of my attitude towards how the poor are often unjustly treated all over the world. As soon as my journey with Baba had begun, we were immersed in a conversation about how the extremely rich can often be the most unpleasant of people. While I explained how I had been violently pushed off a bus by a rather large, heavily jewelled Persian woman earlier in the day, Baba sympathised with my story and conceded that it was his richest customers who tipped less, smiled less and looked upon him - as he put it in his soft voice - “as only a monkey on a bike earning his peanuts”.

We laughed off our social and economic observations in a breath of smoggy Delhi air, however, I was left with a pervading sense of sympathy for Baba. I have a severe dislike for people who regard the everyday man/labourer/six-fingered tuk-tuk driver as less ‘intellectual’ or in some way inferior to those who possess a higher status of wealth or ‘intelligence’.

In my experience, it has usually been the poorest of people - as it was with Baba and many others in India - who display a spiritual nobility unmatched by most. While the rich are often too caught up in themselves and their comforts to consider the very essence of existence, it seems souls like Baba possess a divine consciousness that encompasses the togetherness of people in the grand cosmos of life itself. In my opinion, it is this heightened moral sense that should be valued before any foolish economic or academic judgement.

Of course, I am not so naïve as to label the poor as being more ‘spiritually connected’ than the rich, that would be nonsensical and unjust. I am simply recounting a memorable day from my travels throughout India and the emotions that were triggered in me by Baba.

Ultimately, my sense of inner peace came to me that day in understanding that we are indeed all “one and the same” regardless of whatever economic or intellectual barriers some may insist on building.

Perhaps it will take an encounter with a six-fingered tuk-tuk driver to break them down. Peace to you Baba.