Thursday, December 13, 2012

Muhammed, Sydney Airport to Manly, 97 dollars

This time I arrived so late in Sydney from Melbourne. We had been on a Christmas party and arrived in Sydney at 10.30. I did not book a taxi in advance since I did not expect any taxi queues at this time. Of course I still had to wait for 5 or 10 minutes, but it was not too bad. A big Toyota taxi rolled into my dock and I got into the taxi. Muhammed and I started talking about this and that and it turned out that he was a computer hardware engineeer.

"I used to work for a private company in Paramatta. They employed me when I was just graduated. But they did not pay me well"
"No? How much did you get?"
"Only 15 dollars an hour. He said that it would change and 2,5 years later I was still on 15 dollars per hour. That is when I quit"

Muhammed lives in Sydney since 7 years with his wife and his kid that is 18 months old. He was telling me about his family in Pakistan.

"I got a sister doing her MBA. My brother is studying computer science. I got another sister studying medical. "
"How many sisters and brothers do you have?"
"We are 11. 6 sisters and 5 brothers."
"Wow, that is amazing! Your mother must be very strong!  How old is our youngest brothers and sisters?"
"The youngest brother is 12, my youngest sister is 18"
"Ah ok, so soon there will be no more kids in the house"
"Oh yes. There are 9 kids there now. You know, two of my sisters have 3 kids each, one of my sister have 2 kids and one of my brohters have 1 kid. Some of them are still living in the house."
"Wow! Soon there will be like 50 kids when all your brothers and sisters get kids."
"No no, only 12 kids now. Only 12."
"Do you not miss your family?"
"Yeah, you know, my parents have 13 bedrooms in the house to host all the family from time to time. Two of my sisters live nearby and come and stay the weekend. In the winters we all gather indoors around the well where we make the bread and we keep warm that way. It is in amazing feeling!


Here in Australia everybody live separate. If anything happens in the street in Pakistan everybody would know. Everybody will help. There is no difference between families, we are all one big family in Pakistan, everybody helps. It is not like that here. Everybody is separate. That is different. "
"Oh yes, it sure is"
And I was trying to picture myself in that image. 10 brothers and sisters. The parents never reaching the time when all kids have left the home, new grandkids replacing the own kids. Totally different way of living.

"So Mohammed, how many kids are you going to have?"
"2 or 3 maybe"
"Not 10?"
"No no no. It was different then. Now it is too expensive to have kids like that. And according to my religion it is not up to me to decide how many kids I get. It is up to God. "
"Ok, but you just told me you are going to have 2 to 3 kids?"
"Yes, you can plan. But I cannot decide. God decides. "
And we have reached our destination. I pay my bill and get out of the taxi
"Thank you Muhammed, have a great night"
"You too. Thank you, it was nice talking to you. "

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sujit, Richmond to Melbourne airport, 84 dollars

After my business meeting the taxi driver was waiting for me. I was a little bit late but he was calm and relaxed.

"Are you in a hurry? "
"Not really, I got almost two hours before the flight leaves so it should be alright"
"Yes because we got two options on which road to take, we got these options... " and my driver starts explaining the different options.
"Whatever you find appropriate, I do not know Melbourne traffic, you are the expert, you make the choice. "
"Ok, we will take this route that will the quickest. "
"Sure. "
Yesterday was Melbourne cup day, so I ask:
"Did you bet on the horses yesterday?"
"Yes! But I lost. I always lose. "
"I am sorry to hear that!"
"But I was driving a couple of people and the wife won 600 dollars. She had no idea about horses, just took one at random. "
"Ha ha, yeah, that is the way to do it I guess... Where are you from? "
"I am from Nepal"
"Nepal, I love Nepal, where abouts? "
"I am from Kathmandu. Have you been there? When did you go there?"
"I was there 12 years ago. "
"It was probably beautiful at that time"
"It sure was. Has it change a lot? "
"Yes, it has changed a lot. But is still a underdeveloped country. "
"Ah ok. "
"But is due to one reason only. Do you know why? "
"Nepal is a very rich country. It is the worlds richest country in regards to drinking water , but still there is a big water problem in Kathmandu. We have go gold and a lot of other minerals, but nobody is mining it. The government is corrupted and does no development. Nepal is very important to China and India. India is using a lot of resources now for free. They use our water for free, we supply northern India with water. But India do not want us to get developed because if we get powerful they cannot use us like they do now. Indian government is bribing the Nepalese government to prevent them from developing the country. The give them millions and millions of dollars. Nepali government people have houses in the US, in London and for sure in Australia. They do nothing... We actually had a prime minister 10 years ago who wanted to change and develop the country. He closed the border to India and started working on developing the country. He was planning a railway, flew in fuel, started making the agriculture more efficient and distributing the money to institutions and building roads. Three months later the king was pressured from India to take him away. So he was taken away from his position only after three months. "
"Interesting. Hopefully there will soon be somebody that is not corrupted and that will not taken away from the position "
"Yes. The current prime minister actually also have started doing things. But everybody wants him gone. They do not like that Nepal is being developed"

"Why did you move here? "
"To study. I have studied a business degree. I am actually going back in three months. "
"So what are you going to do in Nepal? "
"I do not know yet. I will see what kind of opportunities there are to make business. "
We arrive at the airport.
"Well, thank you for the ride. I wish you the best of luck when you go back to Nepal and start your business!"
"Thank you very much. Enjoy your evening. "

Bisan, Manly to Sydney airport, 92 dollars

It is a beautiful morning. Warm and quiet and the sun is rising. The taxi has already arrived and the taxi driver gets out to help us with the luggage.

"Good morning! No, no, you do not have to go out, we do not have any luggage. It is just a day trip. "
The driver laughs and gets back in the car.
"Are you travelling international or domestic?"
As we are driving out of Manly I am struck by the calmness in the morning. The time when few people are awake and the day is just waiting to begin.
"So where are you from originally?" This is the first time I got a driver that has a foreign accent going from Manly.
"I am from India. I am from Punjab"
"Ah, Punjab - yes I know Punjab, I have been to India, but not to Punjab."
"Well I have been here since 1982 now."
We keep on talking about this and that and then Bisan tells me that he actually used to be a chef and have a restaurant.
"Yeah, really? An Indian restaurant? "
"No, I am an Italian chef. I was a chef for 32 years. From Punjab I went to Germany and lived there and studied. That is where I learned how to be a chef. I used to have a restaurant in Neutral bay and one in Dee Why. "
"Wow, so how is it running a restaurant, is it profitable?"
"If it is busy, yes, very profitable. But not when it is not busy. And also it is so hard to find good staff. Very hard. You need to keep it within the family to make it reliable. My family used to work in my restaurant. My son was taking care of the front of the restaurant and I was taking care of the back, the cooking."
"And you still have any of your restaurants? "
"No, I do not have any of the restaurants left. I still own the property in Dee Why but lease it. It is a huge Indian store there now. Huge"
"That sells food?"
"Yes, everything. Food, clothes, DVDs. You can get anything Indian there. It is massive!"
"Sounds interesting, I want to go there!"
"Yeah, you know Pittwater road? It is just along Pittwater road, you cannot miss it. On your right hand side when you drive through Dee Why. You can get great Indian DVDs there about Hinduism, a lot of Australians come and buy them."
"So you do not do any Indian food?"
"Only for fun, I cannot do it professionally. Only Italian. But now when I do not have my restaurants anymore, I am driving the taxi. But just for fun, I do it two to three days a week. Just to pass the time you know. My son moved back to India a couple of years ago and started a school there. A school for teaching English and computer sciences. He has got a master of computer science from Australia. He started small but now he has got 150 students. My second son just got married. He works with accounting. The marriage was in Canada"
"So his wife is Canadian?"
"She is Indian-Canadian. They live with us now since a couple of weeks back."
We are now approaching the domestic airport and the queue of cars stretches out onto the highway. Will I make it? With 35 minutes before the flight departs we arrive at the taxi rank at the departures.
"Thank you Bisan, it was great chatting to you. Have a great day!"
"Thank you. You too and enjoy your flight. Please call me when you need a taxi and I can arrange so that you will be picked up, even from the airport. "

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mark - Manly to Sydney airport, 96 dollars

This is one of the few times I am waiting for the taxi outdoors, I am normally a couple of minutes late, arriving at the kerb meeting a sometimes concerned driver. I squat down and do some facebooking while a dog resists passing me. I guess I look threatening in my squatting pose. Time passes and the phone tells me that it is 5.32. I was supposed to be picked up at 5.30. Should I call them and ask? Just as I finish that thought the taxi is turning around the corner. The man stops and goes out and starts talking. As usual when going from Manly to the airport, this man is born and bred Australian.

We start talking about the weather, an accident in Balgowlah and that news papers normally are so depressing only containing sad news.

"That is what everybody wants. According to my experience, meeting a lot of people during many years, I belive most people are like that. They take joy in other peoples misfortune. They feel good by putting other people down"

"Yes, that is true, many people are like that. I guess they belive they will be happier by doing that... But I think it is the opposite."

"And a lot of people use laws and regulations to put people down. And especially females, haha!

Every law and regulation gives these people an opportunity to put somebody else down. By enforcing the law in any circumstance. There are so many laws everywhere, we cannot follow them all!

I had this woman in the car one time. And she was like that. I almost never use the phone. If I have sent 50 texts during 10 years, that would be a good estimation. But this time it was certain circumstances so I needed to talk to one of the other drivers. He called me on the phone and I picked it up to see what was happening with the car, and the driver and so on. When I had been talking for 10 seconds the woman told me :

- Put that phone down!

I said to the driver: I will call you back, I have one of those in the car... She started going on and on about that it is against the law to use the phone while driving. I said, what about all these other gadgets in the taxi? I tap, I read on the screen, I put in codes. Do you think talking in the phone is worse than that?

She was persistent. It is against the law she said. So I said, there are laws against everything. I bet you have broken 10 laws and regulations every morning before you turned your first corner. Look at this line we are approaching for example. According to the rules we must turn left here instead of going where you want, so let us do that and take a detour.

After that ride she went to the police and made a report on me. Nothing came out of it luckily. "

We are approaching the airport and the queue is long. Mark does not want to fall into the line but passes it on the right side in hope to find a gap and sneak in just before the wall that divides the two lanes. When we approach the dividing wall he realises it cannot be done, and says

"I will stop by the cross over. Is that ok?"
"Yeah, sure. "

We stop at the cross over and I give him my credit card.  When we are about to finish the payment a police car turns up next to us. He gets stressed and pulls my reciept and gives it to me before it finishes printing. Then he gives me the second half containing the actual amount.

"Damn it. Can't he see that how crowded it is this morning? Ok Ok. I gotta move. Just because I stopped at this line. Everybody does that!"

Mark is upset and starts the car and says that we can sneak in the back way just 100 meter in front of us. The police car passes us quickly and puts the car exactly where we intended to go in for dropping me off.

"Look at that guy! I have to make the loop. He is one of those people I told you about! Using laws and regulations to put you down. That was not necessary. This airport is so badly built. Everybody stops there to drop people of. I feel like I should have told him one thing or two. Asked him if he felt good this morning when he got up and got into his little uniform. Asked him if


A couple of minutes later we have finished the loop and again Mark passes the queue in hope to sneak in at the end. Once again he fails to shortcut into the line before the dividing wall. This time there are four taxis in a row by the cross over. He stops there again and drops me off.

"Look, everybody does it. Why did he have to pick on me? "

We exit the car and he gives me my luggage.

"Thank you. C ya!"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Anthony - Circular Quay to World Square, 11 dollars

I arrived to Circular Quay with the Manly Fast Ferries. A beautiful morning ride. The world's best commute. I went to the taxi stand and found a free taxi, sometimes you need to wait for a while, but not today. I opened the door and started talking to the driver.

"Hi, how are you?"
"Good thanks" The driver looked a bit reserved, maybe this is going to be a quiet drive.
"I am going to World Square please."
"Ah ok. A lot of traffic now. The kids are back from holidays and it is a lot of traffic. Slowly getting better now. "
"Good, that sounds good" I said.
"So where are you from?" Anthony asked me, discovering that I am not an Aussie from my accent.
"I am from Sweden. "
"Jag talar svenska " Anthony said.
"So you have been to Sweden? "
"Yes. I was there when I was sailing".
"Wow, so you were sailing! Tell me more about it"
"I was in Uddevalla. I was working on a ship. It was a merchant ship travelling the world. "
"That sounds exciting! What were you doing on the ship? "
"Well, just working you know. All kinds of things. Painting, moving stuff, fixing - just working doing whatever was needed. "
"So how is it working on a ship, is it exciting?"
"You know, it is kind of a sad life. It is only you, the sky and the sea. Nothing else. "
"Oh. But do you not experience marvellous things, fish in the water, something? "
"Not much, it is mostly the same. But in Saudi Arabia there is a lot of fish. A lot of fish. You can put down a rope with nothing on, no bait. And you pull it up and you have like 5 big fish on the rope. Amazing! I used to do soup. Vegetables, onion, fish. And then you boil it a long time until it is creamy. When you eat it, later you fall asleep, ha ha"
"Where are you from? "
"I am from Peru. But I have lived here for 38 years, I am from here now. I have been back to Peru only four times. Four times. It is no good to live there. To dangereous. Last time I was back I was scared. You can loose your money, they will take your car... It is not safe. "
"You like Australia better? "
"Oh yes, this is much better. It is safe here. I can leave my car in one spot for a week, and I come back and it is still there! Australia is a good country. I live a good life here. "
"And you like driving the taxi? "
"Yes, it is a good job. I have been doing it for eight years now. It is free. I start early in the morning at 4 or 5 and finish at 3 pm. It is a good job ."
"Good to hear. You can stop right here please "
"Ok, 11 dollars please"
"There you go."
"Thank you, God bless you"
"God bless you too"
"Thank you"

Friday, August 31, 2012

Gurnam - Richmond (Melbourne) to Melbourne Airport, 49 dollars

"So how does it feel to live in the best city of the world, Melbourne? " Melbourne was recently announced to be the best city in the world to live in according to the Economist.

"It feels great! It is much better than Sydney. "
"Really, why?" I love Sydney and consider Melbourne a beautiful city but quite European and not as exotic and the climate is much colder.
"Sydney is so crowded. So much traffic everywhere. And it is so expensive. "
Fair enough. Melbourne is much less crowded, and cheaper.

"I love Melbourne. And Australia. You know, I am from India but even though I am from India I do not want to live in India."
"Why not?"
"The corruption. India has too much corruption. Everywhere. You cannot do anything. You want to start a business, you need money to pay everybody. Everybody fill their own pockets first and then they do their job. Here in Australia, anybody can start a business. It is just to do it. In India, the british started the corruption when they came. They took all the riches of India and started corruption. A lot of politicians have tried to stop it during the years but nothing happens. "

"Look at the rich people in India. They get away from taxes. They hide and pay around 1 percent of their income in tax. 1 percent! That is nothing. They should pay maybe 20 to 30 percent! Look at Australia. Everybody pays taxes but look. We have roads, schools everything works. Everything. The tax money is actually used in a good way here. "

"That is right, it works pretty well here doesn't it. "

Melbourne airport. We are here, Jetstar, here we come!

"Thanks for the ride Gurnam, see ya! "

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Imran - Sydney airport to Manly, 96 dollars

"Do you know what happened to me yesterday?"

"No, tell me." I said. We were somewhere between the airport and the harbour tunnel. This was my first time pre booking a taxi. What a relief to skip the long taxi line after a long flight and walk straight to a car that was waiting for me.

"I had two women and two men in the car, they just came from a party. I don´t think the men and the women  knew each other that well. The women had probably met the men at the party. So they were sharing a cab. The men and the women were arguing about where to go. The men wanted the women to come with them, but the women wanted to go home. The men said they were paying for the taxi. So I started to drive in the direction of the men´s destination. The women started objecting and arguing against the route, and I asked them all, ´where should I go, I do not know who to listen to!´. The men said to go with them since they paid the taxi. I finally stopped the car and asked them all to agree before I moved. The men finally convinced the women to go with them to have a coffee and then they would pay a taxi for them to go home. When we arrived to the destination the women had changed their mind. They did not want to go out of the taxi. They started arguing again and the men suddenly opened the doors, got out of  the taxi and ran away!

"No, they didn´t!".

"Yes! And that was a 80 dollars taxi ride! Now we were far away from where the women wanted to go and they said they were not going to pay for the ride since they did not want to go their from the start. So I said if we could not agree I would take them to the police. So we went to the police station and talked to the police. But now they told a lie! The women said that the men forced them into the taxi and that they never wanted to go with the men in the first place! One police officer believed them and one police officer believed me. I was disappointed with the women. I said, you know, everything in life is not all about money. You lie and get away with it, maybe you save some money - but there is something that is called karma. Everything bad and good you do will eventually come back to you. "

"Ouch, what a night you had, what happened in the end?"

"We all agreed on to share the costs. I drove the women to their destination and they paid half of the money and I paid half of the money. So I only got 60 dollars for a ride that I was supposed to get 120 dollars for. And I also spent 2 hours in a police station. You see these crazy things happen to me?"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sam - Nedlands to Perth Airport, 56 dollars

Sam is a young taxi driver. He has got large sun glasses and longer black hair. Very aware of his style. When he picked me up he was so happy to get a long ride all the way to the airport. He said it was his lucky day. Now we have been driving for ten minutes and are now driving along a river.

"What do you mean that you do not know if this river is the same river as the one in the CBD? You are a taxi driver and must know the city inside out? "
I am smiling at Sam and he sighs.
"I don't know! I cannot focus on the stuff around me."
Sam is laughing
"I got so much stuff going on in my life. Life is shit"
"No come on, life is wonderful! What is bothering you?"
"Well, first of all I am in love with this girl. But she is getting married to another guy. But she does not want to marry him. "
"Wow. That is though. Why does she not want to marry him? Did her parents choose him? "
"Yes. And they are engaged. And everybody is expecting this to happen you know. "
"Do you still see her?"
"Yes I do." Big sigh. "If she was going to break up with this guy it will cause a lot of pain. Family, relatives, friends. Everybody is expecting this. And if she breaks up because of me I must marry her instead. "
"And are you prepared to marry her? "
"I am not ready yet. I am studying, I cannot support her now. "
"But does she not have a job? "
"Yes, she has got a good job"
"And she likes it?"
" Yes, she likes it."
"Hey Sam, take it easy. Just be patient, everything will be alright in the end. If you do not know what to do, just relax."
"Well, yeah, I dont know what to do... "

We continue talking about other stuff in his life that is "shit". But even though everything is bad Sam laughs a lot and is very easy going. I am sure that he will be fine. He also tells me that he used to live in Melbourne for a few years so I ask him about the differences between Melbourne and Perth

"Perth is much better! People in Melbourne are so rude. People in Perth are so nice. The weather in Melbourne sucks! The weather in Perth is great, everyday sun. Fantastic. "

We arrive at the airport and Sam drives away, happy with the longest drive of the day.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cheng - Circualar Quay to Surry Hills, 28 dollars

" I am from China. "

" Ah. How long have you lived in Australia?"

"15 years"

" Are you from a village or the city? "

" I am from a small village. " And he is telling me the name of the village which I repeat several times in my head. And I forget it approximately 30 seconds later.

" Do you go back and visit?"

" Yes. I was there two years ago. "

" Do you see any changes? "

"Everything has changed.  Now it is so expensive in China. Everything is so expensive. But the quality is better also. "

"And you live here in Sydney with your family? "

"Yes, my wife and my daughter. She is 31 years old.  She studied in university to be a nurse. And she is now working in a hospital. Very good job."

 "Wow. You must be so proud of her! "

A big smile spreads on his face.

"She earns good money. But she is always on hold. There is a big lack of nurses. "

"Oh yeah, I read about that. "

"Work lot of overtime. ... Ok. Holt street."

"Thank you. Have a good day"
"You too. "

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Salim - Circular Quay to Walsons Bay, 9 dollars

"There are many tourists here now isn't there?"
"Not so many. GFC. People from China, Japan. "
"Yeah, but I have seen quite a few tourists in Manly, European has their holidays now."
"Really? Ok. Maybe people from France, England. "
"And a lot of people from the nordic countries, Sweden, Norway, Finland. "
"No no. They do not know about Australia. "
"Oh yes, it is very popular with Swedes. A lot of Swedes move here. "
"No no. Why would they do that? Everything is better in Sweden than here! I come from Pakistan. And from Pakistan and India you can understand why we come here. But not from Sweden. They do not come here. "
" I can promise you, they do. "
Salim looks and me and smile.
" Ok, ok"
We are at my destination, it was a short ride this time.
"9 dollars"
"Thank you. Have a great evening!"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bashir - Sydney International airport to Manly via Frenches Forest, 80 dollars

"Anyone for northern beaches!!!? "
I had been waiting in the taxi line at the airport for 10 minutes. And the taxis became more and more sparse. It looked like they were running out of taxis. Behind me there was a line with about 50 people.
"Northern beaches, going to northern beaches?"
This taxi driver wanted another passenger by some reason. Should I take it? I was number 5 in line, but there were no more free taxis for the moment.
"I can take it!"
I got in to the taxi.
"I will first go to Frenchs Forest to drop you off" the taxi driver said to my passenger.
"What's with the taxis? Why are there no more taxis?"
"You know, it is night time, very busy. All the business people come home from travel. Very busy. We did a general taxi call now to get more taxis to the airport. In the afternoons it is not busy but mornings and nights very busy".
"Where are you from?"
"How long have you been in Australia?"
"16 years. "
"You like it?"
"Yes! I like it. I got four kids. If I would have stayed in Lebanon I would not have had a good life. Not enough money to feed the kids. Here I can have a good life. In Lebanon you are always aware. Anything can happen anytime. "
"It is not safe?"
"I would not say that it is not safe. But you are always aware. You always know that something can happen. At night, all the time. "
We drop off the guy at Frenchs forest and go on to Manly.
" You know. Money is nothing in life. As long as you are healthy you are rich. If you are unhealthy money does not matter, you would rather be healthy than have money. I was reminded of this a while ago. I was driving the taxi like this and all of a sudden I got a sharp sharp pain in my stomach. Like somebody put a knife in my stomach. I managed to stop the car and got into the hospital. It hurt so much! It was stones in the kidney. The doctor said that it is common among taxi drivers. Taxi drivers do not like to drink water because we do not like to go to the toilet. And we drink to little and stone in the kidneys. So now I always got my medecin with me! "
Bashir is holding up a bottle of water with his left hand.

"ok. There you go. Manly. "
"Thank you Bashir, nice talking to you!"
"Thank you, nice talking to you too"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dai - North Sydney to World Square, 22 dollars

"Are you free?"
"I have to go to the toilet first. "
"I need to go to the toilet. Ok? I will be quick."
"Ah. Ok. Sure."
And the guy gets out of the taxi and starts running. A couple of minutes later he is back.

"World Square please, do you know where it is?"
"Yeah, world square."
"Thank you.
Did you have a good day so far?"
"Oh yes, good day! But too much raining. Not good too much raining all the time! "
"No I guess, but now it is finished. "
" Yeah too much raining! Little rain is good, but now. Too much!"
"How long have you been in Australia?"
"I have been in Australia for 8 years!"
"So you like it?"
"Yes, Australia is very good. Not like China. In China - not free. I mean, Australia is not perfect, still has political problems, but in China not free."
"Oh yes, I have heard about that... Not good!"
"No, you know, if you are a practioner of ... which is a chinese meditation then you will be prosecuted! That is why I came here. I fled. If I had stayed in China I would have been in prison. "
" Really?"
"Yes, you cannot practice this kind of meditation, the communists does not like it. The meditation is good, people becomes happy and healthy and loving. But they are afraid of it by some reason. The prosecute people that practise it. "
"Many hundreds of thousands people live in fear in China or in prison. ".
"There you go. World Square. "
"Thank you for sharing your story with me. "
"Thank you for listening. "

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jacques - Frenchs forest to Manly, 25 dollar

I had been waiting and waiting for 10 minutes. I walked while keeping my eyes open for a taxi. When I came to a bus stop I saw that the next bus was in 30 minutes. Nooo! Then suddenly, a taxi! I waved but he did not stop. Why not? Of course. He cannot stop here. The traffic is too intense! I looked and saw him turning a couple of hundred meters further down. Maybe he stopped and waited for me! I ran but he was not there. Then all of a sudden, he was beside me. He had gone around the block.

"Thank you for stopping. It took a long time to find a taxi here."
"Well I have never, never gotten a customer on THIS street!"
"Well, thank you, I was very very tired. It has been a long week."

We talked about this and that and then he asked me.

"Where are you from?"
"Sweden. "
"Ah, Sweden, I used to live in France"
"So you speak french?"
"Mais, oui, je parles francais!"

And I started to speak french as well and it turned out that he was actually french! He moved to Australia wwhen he was 10. So the rest of the taxi ride we spoke french. Me more in the beginning than in the end because I was exhausted from my day and keeping the concentration on speaking my third language was just too hard.

*in french, but now translated to english*
"Yes, I have lived in many countries. And I speak most languages. But not Thai. Thai is so difficult. I lived in India. I speak hindi"
"Oh wow, did you live in India? Where in India?"
"Dharamasala, in the northern parts. "
"You kiddin! I have always wanted to go there!"
"It is soo beautiful. I stayed there for some time and did a lot of meditation. One day there came some poor people in to the village and they had no food and no money and I helped them. That is when i met Dalai Lama. "
"Have you met Dalai Lama?"
"Yes, très sympa, very nice man! He saw that I had helped these people so he came to talk to me. And he is a wonderful man. "

Wow. This man has met Dalai Lama. That is huge. That is like chatting with Richard Branson, Barrack Obama, Martin Luther King or Gandhi. I am so impressed. And this guy drives a cab.

"Wait wait, I live here!"
"Ok. Oh no! I forgot to start the meter! Just give me 20 dollars then.."
"Are you sure that is enough? I am not the one who is paying. "
"Oh, make it 25 than. ok? "
"Yeah, sure."
"Thank you. Thank you. Au revoir!"
"Au revoir"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arar - North Sydney to Surry Hills, 22 dollars

"What, I just came from Surry Hills! "

You can tell from the accent that this taxi driver is not born in Australia.

"Do you know where Holt Street is?"

He looks a bit worried, but I'll be alright...

"Holt Street... Hmmm.... No worries, I will use my navigator"

"So where are you from?"


"Wow, Jordan, I have never met anybody from Jordan before!"

"So you have never been to Jordan, do you know where it is? "

Oh God, somewhere in north Africa? How can I not know where Jordan is? Embarrassing!
"I believe I do... Almost"

"It is in the middle east, next to Israel"

Ok. I knew that. Do they have an wars there? I know so little about the world...
"How is Jordan? Peaceful or do you have wars? " Exposing my lack of knowledge. Be kind to me...

"Jordan is very peaceful! All the surrounding countries are less peaceful, but Jordan good. We have a good king! 85 percent of the people like him."
Wow! That is more than most democracies.

"Do the king have any power? "

"Yes! It is not like in England, the king decides everything! I have not been in Jordan since King Abdullah the second started ruling but I went back to Jordan last year and my family says that he is good. Ok. This is it. Holt Street 55.  "

"Oh thank you"

"You know, I picked those ladies up over there (pointing 100 meters away from where we are), the ladies I was dropping off when you were coming out of the office. I am so lucky getting a new customer immediately. Have a great day!"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pavan - Adelaide aiport to curry Street, 24 dollars

"Is that your lucky duck?"

Pavan has a yellow toy duck hanging in the window.

"Haha, that is my favorite cartoon! I love cartoons. I used to watch cartoons everyday back in India with my brother"

"Are you a Sikh?"

A Sikh is the highest rank in the cast system in India. The priest cast.

"Yes I am a Sikh."

"So why don't you have a turban?"

The Sikhs are not allowed to cut their hair. They let it grow and wrap the hair up in a turban.

"Because I cut my hair. You know, Australian girls don't like it. "

"Are you allowed to according to your religion?"

"No, my father didn't speak to me for a whole year after I cut my hair. But now he i s ok."

"So what about your family?"

"They are still in India. In Punjab. You know, most Indian people in Australia are from Punjab. "

"Ah, Punjab is very poor, right?"

"No! Punjab is very rich!"

Oh, how ignorant I am. Now I insulted him...

"But Punjab has a lot of farmers right?"

"No, everybody believes that because you are a farmer you are poor! Everybody owns their land, everybody is rich. It is very expensive for us to come here. You know I payed 600 000 rupies to come here. You must be rich to come here. "

Double ignorance, well done of me!

"What about your brother, does he want to move here?"

"I have asked my brother but he is too lazy. In Australia you have to work hard. My father got a gold shop and my brother is working in that shop selling gold. He spends most of his days watching cartoons. He likes it that way. This is too much work for him. "

When I say goodbye to Pavan I wonder if that might be the way to spend my life. Selling gold in a gold shop and watching cartoons. Not achieving. Only being.

Datha - Adelaide airport to Mawson lakes, 48 dollars

"You can ask anybody in India. Anybody. Everybody will know who he is. It doesn't matter if you ask rich, short, long, tall. Everybody knows him. He is too famous."

Datha was talking about Swami Ramdev. Ramdev is apparently a great yoga guru in India and has started a Yoga revolution in India. He is on TV every morning and have millions of followers.

"Do you know if there is any web site or something?"
"yes, but I believe most is in Hindi"

Damn it. I really want to be mesmiresed by this yoga guru me too! I also want listen to his wisdom and make him my guru. Why isn't it in plain good English?

"You know, if you do as he says you will never get sick. You will never get cancer and always be healthy."

Really? So I need to check out this Rama... I Google him but I find most stuff is in Hindi. And nothing looks even close as interesting as I thought it would. So when I say good bye to Datha I decide to ask my Yoga teacher who has lived in India for many years about Ramdev.