Despite every challenge life has thrown at him, this taxi driver-photographer-psychotherapist says he is in it to win it
His life has never the bed of roses. Since childhood he has experienced unexpected ups and downs, every day, every minute.
Still, Rishi Gulati believes that he is blessed with more than what he deserves. His struggle includes him being sent home, by the principal of his school, as his family could not afford the school fee of Rs 10. It wasn’t just the shortage of money that he was embarrassed by, but the humiliation and embarrassment that was thrust upon him by the principal. Rishi, even though shattered to pieces most of the time, continued to study, and at the age of 15, after the passing of his father, was forced to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of his three younger sisters and a brother.
And this was just the tip of the iceberg to what was packed for him for most of his life. But despite the setbacks, he is a walking example of strength. Rishi displays compassion and empathy to everyone that he meets, whether through his passion for photography, radio and TV anchoring, his art of hypnotism or while driving his taxi.
A walk through the various phases of Rishi’s life, beginning with his qualification, then leading to his necessity to learn photography, obligation to be a health club coach, a desire to be a hypnotist and psychotherapist, a writer, TV and radio host and his dedication towards his taxi services is interesting to say the least.
“Due to a lack of resources and financial support, I had to drop out of college. When my father passed away the small business that our family owned started going downhill. Again, because of the lack of a support system and monetary backing I had no choice but to do odd jobs to earn enough money to run my life,” says Rishi. His odd jobs included still photography, motion videography, loading and unloading goods at a carton factory, and working in a cardboard workshop. “I could only see my debt skyrocketing. It was frightening,” he adds.
At the turn of the millennium, the young Rishi met a health coach and decided to open his own small business. His dedication and passion helped him become the first qualified personal trainer in the city. As time passed, Rishi began to judge several body building competitions.
Rishi’s mentor Dr Randhir Hastir encouraged him to write body building pieces for a local magazine. This was the beginning of Rishi’s writing career. Soon enough, most leading Punjabi newspapers and websites in and outside India started printing his articles. He also started the first Punjabi literary website with his ‘Shabad Saanjh’.
“My business was booming in India, but the family decided to move to Australia. Once the visa was granted I decided to leave my nine and three year old daughters Tanisha and Garima with their grandparents and move to Melbourne with my wife Pooja. Since I had firsthand experience as an accountant in one of my past jobs, I was a little positive in the possibilities Down Under,” says Rishi.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work as expected.
Unfamiliar with the new culture, the first people Rishi came into contact with misled him and he ended up in a caravan park with almost no money and next to no resources. He somehow escaped the situation and started work as a labour hand in one of the farms in the countryside in Melbourne.
Saving some money from that job Rishi and Pooja moved to South Australia and ended up in another farm, while his wife worked in an Indian restaurant in Adelaide. His struggle, away from his family led him to pen down his pain in form of poetry that later was recorded by a sound company, sung by the famous singer Pammi Hanspal.
Adelaide had always given a new hope to Rishi and his family. His time of struggle with various big or small jobs forced him a new direction that led to the taxi industry. When looking for a new approach in his professional life, Rishi came across the launch of Uber in Adelaide. Seeing it as a fresh start approached it wholeheartedly. It was then when he with astounding ease moved swiftly from Uber to 13 Cabs, getting his own plate under 13 Limo.
His taxi, that Rishi considers his pride, is a top model Camry to provide passengers the best possible service. Rishi’s cab carries a free bottle of water for all passengers, if needed. There is special section that includes, for all passengers, various kind of lollies, little toys for kids, deodorant sprays for young boys and girls, hand sanitiser, facial wipes and magazines at all times. In addition, for a challenge ride, Rishi have also gone through the effort of stalking a range of puzzle games and Sudoku collection. Now wait for this, Rishi’s cab also has a provision of live TV—again the only taxi among other thousands of running in Adelaide. It’s no surprise Rishi had been twice awarded with ‘Driver of the Month’.
Into the world of hypnosis
In 2011, Rishi made his very first association with an Australia based radio Harman Radio, and for four years he anchored a show where he would interview film stars, singers, writers, poets, even scientists as guest speakers. His popular and most well-liked radio programmes included ‘Migration Matters’ and Crazy Class that attracted guests such as Famous Indian hockey players like Balbir Singh Senior and the Indian Hockey team captain Sardar Singh.
“During one of my talk shows I interacted with a ‘baba’ from Punjab who excelled in dealing with mental health issues. Fascinated with the mystery of this science of paranormal activities and mental well-being, I decided to learn the art of hypnosis,” says Rishi, whose study in hypnosis led him to pursue a course in psychotherapy.
“I treated myself both as a therapist and a case study as well. My curiosity on how the art and science work together for self-healing led me to explore more,” says Rishi who offers free counselling and therapy.
“I’m a taxi driver and so I connect with people from various walks of life. Even my mother, who is visiting me in Australia, doesn’t hesitate to prepare tea and meals for those who visit me seeking support in order to heal and lead a better life,” he says.
The experience of hypno-psychotherapy has helped change his psychology towards seeing his passengers not just as his client but humans.
“And finally, after all the ups and downs, and struggles, I have begun to see purpose and meaning in my life,” says Rishi.