“Personally, I have always looked upon cricket as organized loafing”…
The drive was going to be long – from Chevy Chase to Alexandria where my hotel was. I was tired – I always am at 9:30 PM after a business dinner – but never too tired to find out the background of my Uber driver.
Adeel was born in Pakistan and has been in this country for only ten years. He moved here with his parents when he was fourteen.
“So, what do you do other than driving a Uber?”
“Oh! I drive this for two hours a day. I also work at a law firm for three days a week”.
“You work in a law firm? You look pretty young for that.”
“Oh! I actually am a college student. I am a senior in George Mason”.
I did the math – so he is about three years older than my elder daughter in NYU and is already doing 2 part time jobs.
“Why are you doing two jobs while studying in college? Does that not take your time away from studying?”
“Maybe. But I do not want to be in debt. I will take more time to pass college if that is what it takes but I am not taking a loan.”
“That is a personal belief. What I have not earned is not mine. I want to keep it that way”.
Things got really interesting. We talked about music. He is from Punjab part of Pakistan. Turns out Adeel was not too much into Qawwalis and Ghazals but he had heard the names of Nusrat and Amjad Sabri from his dad. He was suitably impressed when he realized I knew who Arif Lohar was and how he looked and named some of his songs.
“My dad will be really proud of you that you come from a different country, live in a different country and you know all the musicians he talks about from his country”.
“Well, I hope to meet him some time. What does he do?”
“He drives a cab”.
Right there, you had realize why this country is called the land of opportunity. For an immigrant to come and fight his way thru by driving cabs, raising four kids and one of the kids is in George Mason and is not going to accept money from anybody else to get an education. That has to count for a lot.
But what got Adeel really excited was the topic of cricket. I could hardly get a word edgewise. He rattled off more players’ names and statistics than I could possibly follow. Turns out he himself is a cricket player in the popular league in DC. In high school, he also played for the football (American Football) team.
“You said you are from Kolkata. You know Dada?”
The Indian friends of mine – especially the Bengali ones – will know who Dada is. For the rest Dada-ly challenged, he was the captain of the Indian cricket team and hails from Kolkata (the largest city close to where I am really from).
When we finally stopped, Adeel, got out saying “You are a very nice guy. I want to grow up to be like you. Let me get your luggage out, Mr. Rajib”. I was, of course, “No, no! I can do that” and all that… when he said – “I want to show you something”.
Saying so, he fished out his prized cricket bat from his trunk. “Try it”. I felt the bat up and down, like I knew what I was doing. I got a 50-50 bet right on which end of the bat to hold.
And that is how that picture came about.
I am quite sure my stance was incorrect. I am very sure no self respecting batsman grins from ear to ear. Especially with his overnight luggage resting next to him… But it was a great story from a great kid. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to keep each other posted in life.