Your Story in my Blog : Not Authentically Unhappy? by Dr NK Ranjan

A few months back, I was travelling by an auto rickshaw. I was working on my laptop to use the travel time. Then after some time, I thought of entertaining the driver and started playing songs for him. Then I thought of playing a very popular song that always had a cathartic effect on me. This song had a story…it was filmed on a person who loses everything despite being gentle, honest and straight in all his dealings. I played the song. I could see the effect on the driver. He started humming along. I started singing aloud with the same emotion with the driver and I could see the camaraderie emerging in his eyes. But within a few moments everything went off. I could see the swift change of attitude in his face and a strictness in his body. He said, “The song is good and I like it. But why are you singing? Please do not sing.” I was surprised with this directness. All my enthusiasm of sharing his feelings was gone. I could not react to what he said. I could see his sense behind: “Why are you unhappy? This song is not supposed to be enjoyed by you people. You are not authentically unhappy.”

Finally I could sense many more fundamental questions coming in my way: Am I happy? Why am I not happy?

Please send your stories (250 words max.) for selection to [email protected].


  1. Geetu says:

    Indeed a thought provoking story. Happiness or unhappiness are defined by how one perceives them . Happiness is a perception of being happy for the rider or the driver’s perception that his unhappiness is authentic and that true happiness can be had with material things. Sometimes people loose everything in pursuit of real happiness which they may associate with material things. Its an individual’s perception of happiness….happiness comes when a child smiles, with a simple hug or may be a diamond ring :)

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Thank you, Geetu, for your appreciations! Happiness can be had simply by looking at somebody smiling. Child smile is meaningful but selfless – without any motive. Regards.

  2. kolakola says:

    well first you shouldn’t switch on laptop on bumpy road that too on an autorickshaw..
    But yes incident was touching as we all have feelings and in brief time looking at the plight of others makes us emotional and we try to reach out and connect. but it is like on red light we see beggars and think how they are managing themselves in such pennury but we move forward and reach our destination and never forget to bargain aboout the fare hired taxi guy asks.

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Thanks Kolakoola for your comments! I never knew I would get comments and therefore I never checked back until today.
      You are right when you say we generally are not ready to learn from our experiences that do not touch us.

  3. THELMA says:

    Thank you Dr. NK Ranjan for your story that made me think…
    I really liked the connection you have made about what we think and feel whenever we listen to a song.. Emotions that follow us in every situation.. This happens with smells too. We are immediately transferred to another dimension .. We travel to space and time..
    And yes the most crucial question is : Am I really happy or just living ‘dead’! ;]

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Thank you, Thelma, for your kind comments! It is strange but we are reminded of our moments by smells too. We are connected to others through various senses which are very powerful tools having a capacity to transform us from what we are at present.

  4. always the same point – you are richer/wealthier, you have a better work than me, you live in a nicer house, you have a family, wife, kids , you live in a country which is in peace – and still you are not happy?

    Interesting about respecting each others positions and not to manipulate. Having worked with cleaning in households I know all too well the disagreable feeling when someone tried to manipulate me – in contrary to the respect and aknowledgement I got from others who valued the work I did without trying to play on my emotions.

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Josephine!

  5. nehal says:

    so cute.:) if you are so sensitive to share the brief moment
    with the rickshaw driver i think you have the essence of being happy.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Thank you, Nehal, for the compliments!
      Our senses make our perception better and the resulting knowledge is generally bitter for us. Do we have any option?

  6. Emma Howard says:

    I really enjoyed visualizing this scene; it was like a short film.

    There was a beginning,middle and ending that left us curious.

    Thank you,


    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Thanks to you, I realise the presence of some structure in this story, if we may call it so. I am grateful, Emma! Thank you, too!

  7. Alexandra says:

    I wrote a comment, but maybe forgot to submit.
    Well,I was saying that I love singing.More while I was younger.I think people who love to sing are more optimistic.I have read that kids who hear their mom singing are growing happier…I also loved how thw two ring carriers were also singing, in the book The Lord of the Ring.

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      In fact, I am late.

      Song connects individuals – we learn to relate with its help. It provides us an ability to connect with others. We also learn to share which gives us strength, hope and, therefore, power too.

      True, Alexandra!

  8. Nancy says:

    A nice read with two interesting characters. I felt a moment of harmony was developed and then it was broken. The rider opened his heart with playing music, and it was received by the driver but than human upbringing entered in. Do two people really have to have the same life experience to bring about a moment of happiness and harmony?
    This middle class man was trying to show warmth to a driver, but would it be different if a good hearted driver was trying to show warmth to a very bad mood rider?
    Thanks Dr.Ranjan

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Dear Nancy: Thank you for understanding the heart of the rider. Reality appears differently, many a time, from our genuine expectations.


  9. Sherry says:

    Great story and thought provoking too! I agree with Johanne, what was the intention? Was it to gift him with the song, or to join in with him? The driver clearly did not want to be joined, he did not believe that they were sharing the same life experience. That needs to be respected.

    Thanks for the story!

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      To a great extent, I do agree with you and Johanne! Reality and its limitations are to be respected but something more fundamental than this may transcend us to a plane where we will be happy to be together and sharing our moments. The incident was a revelation for the rider but in his/her own way. The climax gives time to the rider to know and understand his/her own self. The driver’s rejection to the rider’s so-called intrusion helps in this revelation. Thanks, Sherry, for your kind comments!

  10. Heart says:

    Dr NK Ranjan. Thank you for your story. For a month I had a rickshaw waiting for me in the streets of Calcutta, every morning and every afternoon, going to and from work. He didn’t speak a word English, so all our communication was through body language and facial expression. You might have read the book ‘City of Joy’, which describe in depth the life of the men running the rickshaw. Of course I felt bad, having a slave pulling me like that, but it was the best way to get around in the narrow streets of Calcutta. It gave my man an income he could count on for a month. And of course I gave him more Rupis than he asked, and made him happy on the short term…but to make him happy on the long term, I’m sure he would like to quit his job as rickshaw worker?

    1. aditya says:

      oh heart,

      u have been to india ! u know this place, good good !


      on a diffrent note – now a days, i see that people who work with their bodies like say drivers, factory workers, farm workers etc etec. are looked down upon and they don’t earn much either; everyone dreams of getting educated and finding a mind job. but no amount of mind job can produce anything physical like food or services. somehow the way humanity values work is going to be counterproductive for existance of humanity ! just a stray thought!

    2. Dr Ranjan says:

      Dear Heart: Thank you for connecting with your experiences. All of us have some limitations and we will have to learn to consider those. This is the way we also learn to respect individuals and relationship with them.

      Aditya, You are right when you question the differnec of production value by two different classes of society and try to analyse their worth.

  11. For me, all that story speaks for me of the “intention”. The “personage” wanted to entertain the driver. Why? He wanted to play something that was of meaning for himself to the other, with an “expectation, an intention”? That songs made reference to him, describing his losses. He is there looking for the effect on the driver … so, he had an intention! There, I feel unease … like intrusion, invasion … He started to be like the driver and the camaraderie that he was, was it his? Then everything went off … The driver I think sensed the invasion, the manipulation, the intrusion and put a limit. Then, the driver directs the “personage” to where he should be, with him! And then what happens happens … questions come for the “personage” to make a serious introspection … For me, it is important to know what are the intentions behind a transmission, a communication … Has he asked for the driver to listen to the song and give him a feedback of what it touched in him would have been an approach respectful … By doing without saying the intention or seeing the true intention, by interpretating the other from only what is saw or sensed can be misleading … I admire the driver for “sensing” a form of manipulation, because that is how I see it and to “redirect” the “personage” to himself … I like that story. I do not know if that is what was meant but that is how I read it and it drives me to fundamental questions pertaining to intention in communication, in relationships … Jojo

    1. aditya says:

      Hi jojo !

      for me it ( intention behind communication ) is sharing, sharing an angle which may not be ovbious ( in my opinion ) but i realise one needs to be ‘politically correct’ too. so far i have resisted the temptation to act on this realisation, pray that i don’t need to act on it ever.freinds will understand, foes won’t care, others …. will choose sides either be freinds or foes or remain as others.

      abandon your cleverness and gain bewilderment ! somehow this line from Rumi is remaining like a constant companion to me.

    2. Dr Ranjan says:

      Dear Johanne:

      I liked your comments really.

      You have explained rightly that the driver did not like the invasion into his persona. He did not allow the “personage” to touch his life. A self-respecting individual? At some level all of us connect to each other; we sense we are no different any more. Self-respect sometimes comes in the way. The approach may not be always manipulation. Intrusion may not be the right word probably.

      But…thanks for consideration, Jojo!

  12. Marie says:

    Souvent j’ai ressenti intensément mon bonheur après une douleur tout aussi intense. C’est pour cela que je pense que l’intensité du bonheur ne se comprend qu’í  la mesure de la douleur, qu’elle soit morale ou physique. C’est pour cela qu’il y a des batailles qui nous sont plus chères au coeur que d’autres. Non pas en regardant tout ce que l’on a perdu mais en trouvant tout ce que l’on a gagné.

    Chère Maggie, il n’y a que vous-míªme qui pouvez ressentir lorsque vous íªtes dans le bonheur ou dans le malheur. Votre coeur vous parle. Je suis sí»re que vous devez l’entendre…

  13. Suzanne says:

    This story says a great deal about living in the moment. Our feelings are subject to swift changes with or without a conscious thought to provoke a change.

    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Actually! And sometimes this moment has the strength to redefine our whole life. Thanks Suzanne!

  14. aditya says:

    Because my Dear Doc !

    it is not about being happy or unhappy, it’s about being authentic. if u are authentic which also means being sincere, being true to your self 1 journey begins with discovering our true self, which incidently never gets discoverd, for its’ part of teh same mystry, but the very effort gives one the authenticity required for being happy or unhappy !


    1. Dr Ranjan says:

      Dear Aditya:

      First of all, let me thank you for responding to the responses I received.

      It is a brief experience that defines the origin of relationship among individuals. Happiness or un-happiness…these sometimes are instrumental in approaching somebody with a will to be with that person in those moments. We all probably know and understand our expectations.

      Love always!

    2. aditya says:

      Dear Dr. Ranjan.

      “we all probably know and unederstand our expectations” that is not the case, we have a vague idea about what society expects from us, but getting to know what we expect from ourselves is a tad more difficult, first of all we need to understand ourselves. Zesus called us deaf and blind, Buddha called us ignorant, as have all the prophets. In such a situation we are not authentic, we actually don’t know what we want from life. We seem to be fairly clear that we don’t want this, this and that, but what we want is not clear, because before we can speak of what we want, we will have to know who we are, and we are not just our names, we are not just our relations, we are not just our titles…. so authentically unhappy one can never ever be, the moment one is authntic one becaomes happy, if fact bliss.


    3. Dr Ranjan says:

      Dear Aditya:

      In the story the ‘I’ wants to share the driver’s being unhappy and eventually ends up realising himself in the same state as well. But during this journey of realization there are many more revelations for ‘I’. There is no need to know what our society expects from us. Again, what we want from our life may not be clear to us – but all of us are amidst a journey and, therefore, there is a direction.

      But knowing becomes a problem as it brings along other by-products with the knowledge about our life. Siddhartha becomes Buddha and realised the simplicity of life is the crux.

      Love always
      Dr Ranjan

  15. Maggie says:

    Wow, indeed, who can measure happiness or unhappiness?