7 lessons I learnt from driving in Mumbai

If you’ve driven in Mumbai, the maximum city, you will instantly agree when I say that ‘If you can drive in Mumbai, you can drive anywhere in the world’. Driving in the maximum city is paradoxical in more ways than one. It is challenging yet rewarding. It can get ruthless and yet seem humane. It can tire you to the point of exhaustion and yet be a soothing balm on a weary day. It all depends on how you look at it.

Much like life. Wouldn’t you agree?

One fine day while driving to work, I found myself drawing parallels between driving in the maximum city and living a happy and successful life. It goes like this:horn ok

1. Horn (not ok) please:

There is always that annoying person who honks without reason, even while waiting for the light to turn green. Not only does he increase the noise pollution, he also pushes your buttons and succeeds at making you anxious and irritable. Sounds familiar?
We come across such people at work or in our personals lives too. The braggers, the talkathons, the broadcasters. They thrive on the attention they get by constantly talking about themselves, their achievements and contributions, making you feel like an insect in the larger scheme of things. These people are adept at making others feel insignificant and small.
Don’t be this person.
Do the job. Quit the constant vocalisation. Let your work speak for itself. Let your actions be the yard that people will measure you with.

stay your course

2. Stay Your Course:

Remember the unruly drivers we encounter on the roads? The who barge onto our course from nowhere and without warning, or the ones who keep pushing us from behind to rush or deviate our course? You will always meet people like these in your personal and professional life as well.
Your job is to stay your course. Remain focused and sharp. Allowing these kinds of people to get the better of you will only slow you down or maybe even push you on to a different path.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Always.


3. Un-herd yourself:

Have you noticed how often when you’re waiting at a red light, some guy will come along and break the signal, and then there will be others who will follow suite? To top it all, drivers driving past you will look at you like you did something wrong by following the rules and adhering to principles!
Yes? Well, guess what! You’ll encounter such people in life as well. People with a herd mentality, who will follow the crowd just because of majority or security.
Don’t be this person. Nor encourage others to be like this. Chart your own path. Do what you feel is right. It might be difficult at first, this doing your own thing. But once you see how rewarding and progressive this is, you will never be a herder.

be a cat

4. Be a Cat:

There is something very attractive about a driver who knows how to manoeuvre the vehicle and get out of almost every jam or traffic snarl. They don’t damage or push over another driver, they just seem to be extremely agile and alert, and know exactly when to move and where to move. They do it with such ease that you can’t but be envious of their skills. I know I am.
Life also hands out sticky and unpleasant situations at us every now and again. Alertness and agility are skills that will get you out of these situations. If you can maintain a calm attitude, it will help you to assess situations and move ahead with ease and confidence.
Be a cat. Observe. Adapt. Recalibrate.

pay attention

5. Don’t stay connected. Remain attentive:

Don’t you just want to hand it to the guy in front of you texting fervently on his mobile phone while the light has gone green? You can keep honking, but he’s not going to move till he finishes sending that text. Maybe you’ll miss your signal, maybe you’ll ruin your mood for the rest of the day, maybe both. All because some guy got distracted while doing something else.
You’re seeing where this is going? Filter the distractions at work or in your personal life. Be authentic and 100% attentive to what you’ve taken up in the present moment. Not only will you become more efficient, you will also learn to appreciate your time as well as other’s time.

keep calm and carry on

6. Keep calm and carry on:

While it’s absolutely acceptable to let off the steam occasionally, you can’t be a pro driver if you allow every situation or bad driver to get the better of you. Sometimes, despite all your planning and preparation to leave in advance, some days are just bad days. You still get stuck in traffic. Unexpected, I know. But it happens. Patience is imperative when it comes to driving in a city like Mumbai.
It is the same in life. Allowing yourself to lose your bearings at the slightest provocation will not serve you well. The key is to accept some situations and people for what they are, and learn to enjoy the ride. Not everything is meant to be controlled and that’s the beauty of life. Use your time wisely. Invest in something that relaxes you and keeps you on your feet, firmly grounded, because this will be your fall back when things don’t go your way.
Be patient. Keep your focus intact and march ahead. Remember that every challenging situation is a test in disguise.


7. Help! Help! Help!

I’ve bantered on about how dreadful driving in the maximum city can be, but there is a silver lining which shows itself ever so often. You do see good drivers helping a person in need. Going out of their way to help an accident victim. Allowing a rushing car to overtake them because maybe they have an emergency. Waiting patiently behind a car that just refuses to start even when the light has gone green.
Follow this principle in life too. There is always someone who can benefit from your help and assistance. Be ready and willing to help others. It doesn’t take much and it sure as hell feels extremely good. Nothing is more important than being kind to each other and uplifting each other. This is not even a leadership trait, it’s just the most humane thing to do.

Drawing these parallels have helped me look at both driving and living with an easiness and comfort that I hadn’t experienced before. Knowing that we are all in this together gives me a new sense of communion and an ability to empathise with fellow commuters and people in my personal and professional life. I hope it does the same for you, and enables you to look at yourself and life with a new light.

About the Author: Amrita Singh

Amrita Singh is a certified MBTI practitioner with over 15 years of hands on training, coaching and communication experience. She holds aAmrita - Development Trainer and Coach Masters in Psychology and a Diploma in Psychotherapy. Starting her career in 2002 as an academic counsellor, Amrita quickly progressed to becoming a Counselling Psychologist for a reputed mental health setup in Mumbai and expanded her candidature as a coach in the field of Training and Development. She conducts transformational training and coaching workshops and provides communication solutions to corporates. She has worked with pioneers in the transport, media, and education industry as part of her client partnerships. Some of her clients include Citibank, HSBC, Group M, Meru Cabs, Sanjivani group of Institutes, GCTT, Yogisthaan, SP Jain School of Global Management, CIMR, and SVKM’s NMIMS among others.
Amrita is also a voracious reader and writes blogs/ articles about human development and animal welfare.

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