On my long flight to Los Angeles for a couple of BMW Group media events, I had the fortune of stumbling upon a little-known American film starring Ben Kingsley (Ghandi) and Patricia Clarkson (The Green Mile). The title of the movie is Learning To Drive, so you can imagine why I picked it from the countless other films on offer.
In a nutshell, Kingsley plays an Indian Sikh named Darwan, who sought political asylum in the US and now lives in New York City. He does double duty as a taxicab driver and a driving instructor. One evening, his cab is hailed by a quarreling couple (Clarkson plays the wife, named Wendy). During the trip, Darwan hears how the husband is leaving the visibly distraught wife. The husband abruptly gets out of the car, and Wendy is left with the kindhearted cabbie.
When Wendy reaches her house, she absentmindedly leaves behind some documents, which Darwan returns the following morning. During this second encounter, Darwan discovers that one of Wendy's fears in losing her husband is losing a driver--because she doesn't know how to drive (more like she's afraid to drive). And that's when Darwan offers his services as a driving instructor.
Needless to say, a beautiful friendship develops. And no, this is not a romantic love story between the two. I invite you to (legally) download this movie and watch it yourself.
In the meantime, I'd like to share with you 10 life lessons I learned while watching the film. These are essentially lines recited by Darwan while teaching his student driver. On the surface, they sound like plain driving tips. But study them with a little bit of introspection, and you'll realize they actually impart valuable gems that tell you how to live life and relate to others the right way. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the people behind this movie intended for these quotes to have double meanings.
Here they are. I hope you're in the mood for some serious contemplation.
1. "Driving is a freedom. Enjoy every kind of freedom, as long as you don't hurt someone."
2. "Teach yourself to see everything."
3. "Read the signs."
4. "Be aware of living as well as nonliving things. When you see a person ahead of you, try to guess what they'll do next."
5. "The driver's biggest problem is everyone else. You can't always trust people to behave properly."
6. "Don't talk. When you talk, you don't see."
7. "It's time to discuss road rage. You must learn to be calm and relaxed, not only to drive but in your life as well."
8. "It doesn't matter what is going on in your life out there, you must shut it out. When you're at the wheel of a car, it's all there is--your life right now. So take care of it, please."
9. "Fear is good. When you're afraid, you pay more attention. No more tuning out."
10. "Bad things can happen just for a second. You can lose anything."
I was touched by these words. If you were, too, share them with someone who might need these tips. And watch the movie.