Archive | July, 2010

Cab Story #7: The Pakistani One

22 Jul

I’ve been hitching a ride with my prince charming the past week, hence the lack of posts about KL cabbies. So to add some life to this blog, I’ve decided to write about the Pakistani cabbie I’ve encountered a few months ago.

It was about 7pm when I managed to flag down a cab. There were some car stickers on the windows so I couldn’t make out the driver’s face before I stepped into the cab. When I saw that the driver was wearing a turban and flowing robe, I realised he wasn’t local. By then it was a little too late, he had started driving. So I brushed aside my shallow prejudice and told him my destination.

“Setapak please”

“Setapak? Ok. Use the Duke Highway?”

“Yes”

The way to the highway was rather congested, so he started complaining about the traffic in KL.

“Miss, I don’t like Kuala Lumpur. Always jam everywhere. I prefer Penang. Penang it’s better. Less cars, got beach. I miss Penang.”

Wow. That’s some opening line. I was curious about his love for Penang. So I decided to probe further.

“If you like Penang so much, why did you come to Kuala Lumpur?”

“Because I stupid that’s why. Last time I was a hotel taxi driver in Penang. My boss is very nice. He is Chinese like you. I can drive nice car, nice one, not like this terrible one I’m driving now. (ouch Proton) Then if there are no customers, I just wait in the air-con room with other drivers. So good. And he pay me good money also. And then, I wanted to try my luck in Kuala Lumpur. All my friends say Penang better but I never listen to them. I told them I must try and see for myself. Then now I regret. I wish I stayed in Penang.”

Aww, poor dude. I felt rather sorry for him, so I asked him why didn’t he go back to Penang since he hated KL so much.

“I cannot go back miss. Like the Malays say “Jatuh Muka” you know? You know Malay? So I cannot go back. I have no face to show my boss and my friends there. They will laugh at me. Say I stupid. I know I made a mistake but I cannot go back.”

Immediately a Chinese idiom came to mind – “A good horse never goes back to graze on grass it has turn its back on” Ok, the English translation doesn’t sound nice, but it basically means that a person of quality and character will not turn back his/her judgement, but always move forward no matter how challenging it may be. I love this idiom. It’s such a long winded way of saying “no turning back”. Haha.

Since talking about Penang made him really sad, and sad cabbies are no fun, I decided to ask him about his hometown.

“So, where were you before you were in Penang?”

“Oh, I was in Sabah. I came to Malaysia from Pakistan many years ago. About 10 years already I’m in Malaysia. When I was in Sabah, the minister there was very good. Very easy to get PR. Now I have red IC. My brother also got red IC. But that was 10 years ago. Nowadays, I hear, very hard to get PR. No more like last time. I have another cousin who wants to come here, but it’s too hard for him already.”

Now this was news to me. I had no idea that our beloved Chief Minister in Sabah was giving out PRs like how credit card companies give out flyers. Damn. I wonder how many migrants got red ICs just like that. And imagine, there are Malaysians who have survived the Japanese invasion and are still not recognised as citizens. This is just outrageous! Why do we Malaysians put up with such terrible governance? Sigh. But since he benefited from the corrupted system, I kept my angry Malaysian views to myself and asked about his home country instead.

“Oh, so you’re from Pakistan. Do you miss Pakistan?”

“Of course. Malaysia is very nice. Very beautiful. But I miss my country. I think it is more beautiful than Malaysia. You should visit one day. I have brothers and sisters there. Family is important miss. You live with your family?”

“Yes.”

“That’s good miss. You’re very nice. Be careful when you take taxi ok? Now a lot of bad people. Sometimes I’m also scared to take passengers. Some passengers see I dress like this and they don’t want to take my taxi. In Kuala Lumpur it’s like that. I cannot do anything. In Penang everyone is nice. Food is good and cheap. I really miss Penang.

Great. The conversation went back to Penang. But at the same time, we’ve arrived at my house. So I paid him the fare and told him not too worry too much. If he can’t go to Penang, he can always try Malacca.

“Yes, I heard Malacca is beautiful too. Maybe I will go there. Thank you miss. It was nice talking to you.”

I never met him again. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget this conversation. It’s really eye-opening how an issue like lackadaisical immigration enforcement can seem like a bad thing for us but a blessing in disguise for migrants who want to earn a decent living. It was also interesting to meet a cabbie who had such strong principals, and wouldn’t flip-flop on his decisions (unlike certain bozos who are running our country).

I also realised that we humans can be too quick to judge at times. When I first stepped into the cab, the first thought that came to mind was “Shit, he’s a foreigner”. But when I stepped out of the cab, his nationality was the last thing on my mind.

Sometimes, it really doesn’t hurt to have faith in people.

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Cab story #6: The amused & amusing one

6 Jul

Today’s cabbie was both amusing and amused. And the amusement began as soon as I stepped into the cab.

“Solaris Mont Kiara please.”

“Solaris Mont Kiara? Got such place ah? Never heard of it!”

“Er, yes. I go there every day.”

“Ha? Wah! Ok, I must see this place. You show me how to go.”

So I directed him to the highway and showed him the way.

“Ah moi, you take taxi every day ah?”

“Yes”

“Aiyo so expensive lah like that! You want receipt? I can print for you! Then you can claim from your office.”

“No no, it’s ok, I can’t claim anyway.”

“Aiyo! Cannot claim? How lah like that. Your salary all go to taxi. Why you have no car? Now take taxi very dangerous. All sorts of funny people.”

(After 3 months of taking cabs, I still haven’t figured out why these cabbies like to shoot themselves in the foot.)

“Oh, I bought my car already. I’m waiting for my car to arrive. I know got a lot of funny people, that’s why I call cab. Last time I just wait by the roadside  but after meeting some weird drivers, I decided to pay a bit more and call for cabs instead.”

“Oh ya lah. Nowadays, a lot of bad people. You know, my friend, he got robbed by a passenger. The passenger put a knife to his throat, rob him. Took all his money, jewellery and around RM2000 cash that was in the taxi! Some more, he took his clothes and left my friend in his underwear only! Then ah, he tied my friend’s hands and legs and left him near a kampung, and drove away in his taxi. He got bitten by mosquitoes all over! He cry you know… so bad lah these people. Now my friend phobia already. Poor thing.”

Before I could say anything, he continued with another story.

“And ah, I heard you know, that day got one ah pek, driving taxi also one. He also got robbed and the robber took a knife and sliced his throat and when the ah pek never die, he use the seat belt and strangle him! Aiyo miss ah, so dangerous lah now. You must be careful you know.”

So I told him I’m well aware of the dangers of taking cabs. But I don’t really have a choice for now. I then told him about all the cabbies I’ve encountered before… I told him about DBKL officers who moonlight, cab drivers who also operate pasar malam stalls, retirees who drive cabs to ward off boredom, and even my encounter with a Pakistani driver.

He was extremely interested to hear more about the Pakistani driver. He was surprised that a foreigner can have a license to drive a cab. So I told him the story of the Pakistani driver… (which I might write about in another post) After I was done with my story, he asked if I had the driver’s number because he wants to meet him… he has never seen a Pakistani cab driver so he wants to see one. Haha. Unfortunately, I didn’t have his number so I couldn’t fulfil his wish.

As we approached Solaris Mont Kiara, he realised that the place really does exist. (Abuthen…)

“Oh! Here ah! So near the Duta Court….the place where Anwar was accused of sodomy.”

“Er, yea. Very near.”

“Aiya, these politicians ah… always playing games. We must not bother. We must take care of ourselves….you know ah, now I call these politicians ‘politikus’! They all useless one! Ah moi, who you support? PR or BN?

As a rule of thumb, I try not to talk about religion or politics when I’m in a cab because I don’t want to offend the driver and die in a ditch somewhere. But since we’re really near my office by now I just said that I don’t mind giving PR a chance because BN is just too arrogant.

Thank God he agreed with me.

“Ya lah miss. I also think so! You know ah, last time my father is UMNO man. Then they play dirty, take money  here and there. Now my father join PAS! They better!”

We arrived and I paid him the fare. He then gave me his number so that I could call him directly if I needed a cab. He said, “Call me la. Then you  no need pay extra RM2. I’ll be around Hartamas usually. Bye miss!”

Bye amusing cabbie. Let’s hope you don’t get robbed by robbers who leave people in their underwear to be bitten by mosquitoes.