Monday, January 28, 2008


I have been waiting at La Guardia for the same amount of time, it took my travel from Detroit to La Guardia. I approached the ground transportation help desk to see if I have any options if the shuttle I booked doesn't show up.

The previous day, it took me a few hours to research on the transportation options from New York La Guardia Airport to Raritan in New Jersey. I won't have much time as the flight's scheduled arrival is at 8:15 AM and I am supposed to meet my business contact by 10 AM. I have less than two hours to cover some 65 miles that includes New York traffic. Considering how bad a driver I am and my difficulty in switching near vision to far vision to keep track of maps and road signs, I chose to take a taxi or a shuttle. I searched for limo services, taxi rates etc and finally booked a shuttle. I wouldn't say my decision to go with that shuttle service can be backed up by good research, but at some point I just booked it without delaying further.

Back to La Guardia. I called the shuttle service for the fourth time to check whether I can cancel the booking as they are so delayed. The meeting that was going to be delayed was important one for me and my company. I'm surprised that I wasn't angry or anxious but was just following up. The operator apologized that the shuttle is stuck in traffic and the delay was inevitable. I promptly emailed my contact at Raritan that I'd be delayed - one of the nice things we learn in client interaction, called "setting expectation".

The van finally showed up at about 9:15, the driver apologizing repeatedly. Shuttle drivers are usually friendly and they tried to get into a conversation. He talked about New York traffic and accidents and gave a glimpse of his knowledge about New York geography to get onto less traffic route to get to my destination on time. One street in Brooklyn had a lot of camera wielding people moving on all directions.

"News guys!" - I said.
"Oh here is the place where the actor who died yesterday used to live...", said the driver. He continued, "Don't you think the news feeding on someone's sorrow is a bad thing?"
"Yes, but it is the same all over the world. There are people who are disgusted by such attitude and there are people who want to make a news out of every event."
"Sir, the dress, food and lifestyle can be different across nations, but the values of people are the same across the world. By the way, my name is Arnie, as in the Governer of California, so that you can relate the name."
I introduced myself.

"Sir, do you believe in rebirth?" He didn't wait for my answer and took it for granted that people from my part of the world accept rebirth as a fact of life and continued. "The west and the books of Jews, Christians and Muslims do not talk about rebirth. I think it is a natural phenomenon that answers all the question about our sufferings. The church and other central organizations want to control the beliefs and so they don't allow room for discussions on rebirth."

I just smiled, I have no on this. Arnie continued, "I think on rebirth gives us chance to improve and win over fear, anger and hatred."

Now I have a comment. "You can't win over these, because you are these. The very identity you have - that of an Anglo Saxon living in New York will create a fear of things - things that are not you. Fear of the terrorists, fear of gangs in the city will be natural as long as you hold the identity. Realizing this will free you from the perception of fear."

The conversation went on and on till we reached NJ. To me, my visit did not serve the purpose until after 3-4 months when I got a chance to work with the client I met on that day. I hope my visit served some purpose for Arnie - more than the salary he earned on that day.

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