It was a chilly morning of December. I, along with some of my friends, was on a Kathmandu bound bus. The windows of the bus were rendered opaque by the fog outside.
Normally, a road trip means interesting scenery and terrain to be savoured. But the chilly weather had other ideas.
There was nothing to do but to listen to the folk songs that the driver seemed to be fond of. It was clear from the way the passengers in the bus reacted that they were not at all impressed by the diver’s play list. But the conductor was the first one to muster enough courage.
“A driver guides us to our destiny, without him we cannot reach our destination. Thus the term befits him.”
“Guruji, can you turn off the player please?” he yelled. Heeding to the call, the driver mumbled something and turned off the player.
“Why do they call the driver Guruji?” asked a toddler to her mother.
“Isn’t guru someone who teaches at school?” After thinking for a while, the mother said, “Well, I don’t know.” A gentleman sitting next to her offered his expertise on the topic. “It is simple. A driver is always teaching someone or the other to drive. More often than not the khalshi (conductor) is learning the art of driving the bus from the
driver. When people hear the conductor call the driver guruji, they also start calling him the same.” Asked whether this was true or not, the shy conductor in his late teens nodded as if to give his affirmation.
But a middle-aged lady, who was sitting on the seat, just in front begged to differ. “I have taught sociology for around 20 years at the university. I think that the usage of the term serves a different purpose. A guru is someone, who shows the right path, someone who guides you towards light from the abyss of darkness. A driver does
Listening to the conversation, the man behind the wheels chuckled. “A driver guides us to our destiny, without him we cannot reach our destination. Thus the term befits him.”
But a unanimous conclusion could not be reached. A person claiming to be a politician said it was due to fear that the driver had gotten the privilege of being called guruji. “The driver has the power. He can stop and refuse to go further because he is in complete control. In the early days, people wanted the driver to feel revered so that he would carry out his duties well. The passengers were afraid that the driver might lead them to a jungle full of bandits and have all their possessions looted. “
The discussion was so engaging that the boring trip turned interesting and in no time we were in Kathmandu. When we arrived at the bus park, the driver killed the engine. To everyone’s surprise he said. “My name is guru that is why he called me guruji.”