Goldy Singh isn’t your average cab driver from Delhi. In a city not necessarily known for its warmth, a trip on his second-hand WagonR is an experience filled with joy, positivity and optimism.
Aside from driving his cab for 12 hours every day, he is also an avid YouTuber, posting daily videos on a whole range of issues—the life of those at the lower rung of the service industry like Ola drivers or Swiggy delivery boys, everyday hacks, technical advice for cab drivers spending long hours on the road, motivational talks, and even food recipes, among others.
Every video begins with a “Hello doston, Kaise ho? Majein mein?” (Hello friends, how are you? All well?) and all of them are laced with good humour and bucket loads of positivity.
He delivers these videos in primarily Hindi, Punjabi and some broken English, through his smartphone.
Just in 2018, Goldy has acquired more than 31,000 followers from India and around the world. Clearly, he is gathering quite a bit of interest.
Goldy began his journey on YouTube at the start of this year, when cab drivers were strongly expressing their discontent against ride-hailing apps like Ola and Uber over payment-related issues.
This discontentment would spill over into a full-fledged strike by cab drivers in March.
When the issue was picking up steam at the start of the year, Singh decided that he wanted to educate those aspiring to become cab drivers about the advantages and pitfalls of working in this line.
Titled ‘The Real Income of Ola and Uber’, the video dropped on January 31 and became an instant hit, generating over 3.5 lakh views.
The inspiration for starting his YouTube channel came from his brother, who saw the potential Goldy had in reaching out to millions with his positive mindset driven by a strong work ethic.
Delhi is an unforgiving city, particularly to those living under difficult financial conditions who also have to navigate the city’s rough ethos on a daily basis.
Born in 1984, a year in which the city was engulfed in horrific anti-Sikh riots, Goldy grew up in an environment where hard work and earning your keep was the order of the day.
Studying up to Class X, he soon gave up school and began working a technician, fixing refrigerators and fitting air conditions for companies like Samsung, for which he worked eight years.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Goldy suffered a serious accident while installing a split air conditioner. He couldn’t do the heavy lifting anymore and dabbled a bit installing LED TVs before eventually falling upon driving.
‘Koi Kaam Bada ya Chhota Nahi Hota’ (No task or work is big or small) is a slogan you often hear in his motivational videos—a sentiment that comes from how society doesn’t look upon too favourably on taxi drivers.
Without options, however, Goldy invested everything into driving taxis.
Early last year, he obtained a commercial license and, on a lease, acquired a car from a private firm in the city. However, it was gruelling work with not much financial gain, spending just four hours a day at home.
It’s not as if he didn’t enjoy the work or meeting new people. The problem was that long hours of driving were taking a physical toll on his body.
He wanted control of his own destiny.
Egged on by his mother, a tailor, Goldy bought a second-hand car in July 2017 and signed up for Ola and Uber.
In the video below, Goldy emotionally describes how her mother invested all her life savings—Rs 1 lakh—and with some financial assistance from friends, Goldy was able to buy a second-hand WagonR, calling it his “lucky charm”.
In his circumstances, most people would be satisfied by just working, earning and feeding their families on a regular basis. However, Goldy achieves that and so much more, earning the goodwill of not just his passengers, but other drivers and followers on social media.
Late last year, he began serving water, and subsequently tea, coffee and fruit juices to customers, along with sweets for children, for free.
Speaking to Scroll, Goldy explains how this was inspired by the Sikh practice of Dasvandh, which urges followers of the faith to spend 10% of their earnings for the betterment of society.
Setting aside 10% of his earnings into the hands of his family, Goldy had saved up a decent amount but found little opportunity to spend it.
Since he spent most of his time in his cab, he decided why not spend the money for the betterment of his passengers?
By February 2018, he had a pink-coloured menu card designed for passengers titled ‘Guru Ka Langar’, where all items were listed out.
Nonetheless, this avid YouTuber through his channel wants to primarily assist fellow drivers by addressing their problems, offering them a popular platform where they can speak without fear.
Besides, there are clips of him motivating his fellow drivers and helping them get through the day on the rough streets of Delhi, besides the odd admonishment of some unhealthy practices.
Whatever engineering he has learnt through his education and past work experience, he puts them into use.
For example, there is one video where Goldy is seen explaining to other drivers how they can help make their air conditioners work better for just Rs 20. There are other videos where he is seen explaining license and permit-related issues drivers undergo.
He is not looking to revolutionise the app-based cab system or unionise drivers but wants both company owners and passengers to think differently or better understand the plight of cab drivers they ride with on a daily basis.
Without effective unions to push for their demands, these app-based cab drivers often end up becoming the forgotten cogs in the wheel of India’s growing service industry.
Even the cab driver-strike earlier this year fizzled out without a trace. This is because many of them, like Goldy, who supports seven people, including his wife, son, parents and grandparents, missing a day’s work wasn’t even a choice.
What he is doing through his channel is telling a wide audience of people on the internet the trials and tribulations of cab drivers like him.
Beyond cab drivers, he even reaches out to delivery boys working for food apps like Swiggy or Zomato, offering them a platform to describe how they go about their daily lives, how much they earn, the process of applying for such a job and the expenses involved.
For young Indians with access to smartphones but no decent work, these videos offer a way out.
What makes Goldy such an effective YouTuber and presenter is his earnest, honest, affable and likeable personality. He does not attempt to mask his emotions, and even critics are addressed with a smile and sense of humour. While he hasn’t seen any real money through his YouTube channel, he hopes to do so soon. He is more than qualified.
For Goldy, earning respect for himself and family—which was his number one objective—has already been attained. For the future, however, there are ambitions to become an actor, maybe perform in a reality show or two.
He definitely has the personality to make it. Let’s hope someone gives him the opportunity!
Follow him on his YouTube channel here.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)