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. "