Posted by: pastorafrank | January 16, 2014

An Uncommon Commodity

We finished the Conference with lunch on Wednesday, yesterday afternoon at 2:00.  We thought we’d arranged with the hotel to send a taxi to collect us (and, as it turned out, Thambi also) at that time.  No taxi was in sight.  Thambi had to catch a plane for Kerala at 7:30 p.m.  We were at least 2 hours from the airport, way out in the country on the northeast side of the metropolis.

A call to the hotel revealed that no knowledge of an arrangement for a taxi existed on that end of the line.  This in spite of the fact that the man behind the desk had written it down and assured me he’d make the arrangements.  I explained that we had to take someone to the airport before returning to the hotel. Just a moment sir, the female voice said, I’ll transfer you.

The transfer took me to the taxi company and an enquiry about what time I wished to be picked up at the airport.  What with the language barrier and all there was no explaining my predicament or what I perceived to be the fault of either the hotel or the taxi company.

Our hosts at the Center bade us sit in the breeze of the overhead fan, have a coffee, and see if they could help.  More phone calls were made.  They can send a cab, one man said to me, It will be here in an hour.  This would not do.  At this rate Thambi would miss his flight.

Perhaps we can use the company car, said the other man, It is coming and will be here in 15 minutes.  Then we can take you to the city where you can catch a cab for the airport.  Better than nothing, I thought.  Worth a try.

15 minutes passed.  No company car.  More minutes fled by.  A car drove up and deposited three men.  One of them was a partner in the Retreat Center ownership, and older man who’d been keen to make sure everything was ok at the facility so that we Americans would recommend it to others.

You take this car, he said.  Down to the city to catch a cab, I asked.  No, he will take you anywhere you want to go.  Is that a company car, I said to Thambi as the man stacked our luggage in a vehicle no bigger than an old Volkswagen Rabbit.  It was a diesel to boot.  No, he said, it is a taxi.

The driver was a far cry from the polished personnel that manipulated the hotel-hired taxis.  A heavily-lidded wandering eye and a missing front tooth or two gave me pause.  The vehicle itself gave me more reason for concern.

The first few feet of our ride over the rather rough road at the Center revealed a front end that threatened to fall off at every bounce.  Terrible noises emanated from the area of the shocks.  When we were able to gain enough speed, it became obvious that those front tires were more than a little out of balance.

But that unassuming driver made his way skillfully to the airport, depositing Thambi in plenty of time for his plane.   In addition he provided succinct commentary on the sights along the road as he carried Luana and me directly to the doors of our lodgings.  Unlike his more sophisticated counterparts, he seemed to be familiar with every area in and around The Pearl City.  And his fee was much less than what we would have paid the other place.

I gave him a healthy tip, shook his hand in gratitude, and asked if he could pick us up today for the return to this fabulous new Hyderabad airport.  He needed to be at the hotel at 3:30 p.m.  He agreed.  There was something about him that told me he’d be there. He wrote his name and number on a piece of paper and handed it to me.

When we were ensconced in our room, Luana and I both marveled at how God provided that car and that driver at just the right time when we were in a very tight spot.

Today at 3:08 he was at the hotel.  He is truly an uncommon commodity in this land where many seem to specialize in promises they never intend to fulfill.  Perhaps he is an uncommon commodity the world over?

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