Thursday, November 8, 2012

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. "