Ola is one of the fastest growing businesses in India. That is not surprising as this brilliant app takes mobility and safety to the next level with its taxi service for citizens of Indian metropolitan cities. I was sceptical about using the service initially a well-known Bangalorean wrote about a disappointing experience. Then my family came for a visit in the city and I was literally depending on this service for a month.
These are the surprising things I learned. They are more philosophical that one might expect.
1. Dream big
You never know who is going to be your next driver. Often you´ll come across drivers who are not from the city, but surrounding cities and villages. For many of them Ola offers an interesting opportunity to make a living.
One thing that many of the drivers I met have in common: they all dream of a better life.
And then you´ll find those type of people that dream big, those who will succeed without doubt. Like one young driver, who told me with full confidence that he would be saving enough money to start his dream factory within a year. He said: I can and I will do that, Madam. Then he added: You too should invest smartly, Madam. That is better.
He had already invested into a second car with the savings of his first year.
I got off the cab with a sense of admiration for this determined young mind. He had a clear vision for the future and full confidence he will achieve his goal.
The safest ticket for success.
2. Take care of your health
This is the other side of the coin. During one of the many taxi rides we had a shy but friendly driver. My dad curiously asked him how many hours he works per day. To our surprise he responded 12-16 hours. After some time he sadly admitted that he is suffering from severe back pain due to the long hours in the car.
It is obvious that nobody will remain healthy working like this 7 days a week. Maybe this young gentleman did not have a choice due to financial pressures.
I could not do much more than wish this young man good luck and advise him to take a day off at times.
I got out of the car with the feeling that health is indeed our greatest wealth. A job should never be the cause of our health issues.
3. The power of human encounters
In one of the most famous taxi-movies of all times, Night on Earth by Jim Jarmusch, human encounters are the integral ingredient of the plot. 5 American and European cities during night time, 5 taxies and 5 touching, dramatic and awkward encounters between the driver and his passengers. Each 25 minute episode brings together people of different social classes, various nationalities and language groups. The seemingly humorous sequences are profound, as they reveal the vulnerability, deep loneliness and longing for connection of the characters through subtle details. World cinema at its best.
Maybe it is the transitoriness of these short human encounters that make them so special. When we enter a taxi we know the ride might not take more than 30-60 minutes. We might never see the driver again. He does not know anything about us, we passengers don´t know anything about him. The anonymity provides the framework to open up, to forget your social “role” or status.
In the best case that brief moment can leave an impression, like the young driver who had big dreams.
Enter a taxi ready for a human encounter. You might be surprised what all can happen.
5. Become the best
I stress this again and again in ANY kind of service, and the positive Ola-experiences just confirmed what I already believe: be the best, give the best service and you WILL succeed. I have saved the mobile numbers of some good drivers and will not hesitate to book them again for future rides.
What makes you the best?
Your commitment to your work and the customer. If you are friendly, respectful and attentive you will stand out from the crowd. In fact you are likely to get a good tip, a happy customer and even return business.
6.Innovation as a catalyst for social change
Especially after the brutal rape case in Delhi which took place in December 2012, the world media as well as the national have been focusing their attention on the safety of women in India.
I must admit that the Delhi-case had an impact on me. It has made women that I know including myself more cautious about safety. That said, Ola has been an amazing discovery for me and many others.
The fact that every taxi ride can be tracked, the driver uses a navigation system and you have more sense of security than inside an open auto rikshaw, makes Ola a great choice for ladies in particular. Moreover my friends felt far more confident sending me home in an Ola-cab in the evening or night than in a regular auto.
Talking to various friends now I realized that Ola has actually given more women in metropolitan areas the liberty to go out when they want to. This again supports social change, due to which girls and women are becoming more emancipated, confident and independent.
Ola as I perceive it now did not only improve mobility, but actually gave Indian modern women in cities a new freedom.
What is the bottom line of this post?
Even a simple taxi ride can teach us quite many things if we remain open. Most importantly it teaches us to remain present and to enjoy the ride!