Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Taxi drivers

I have some fun with the lovely taxi drivers of Wellington. They are an interesting mix of cultures and being the accent queen, I notice theirs. Just like the taxi drivers overseas notice mine. The where are you from question comes before I can stop myself and conversations follow.

Conversations where I learn a lot about other parts of the world, the politics, the religion and the diversity of cultures. I am a social anthropologist at heart and would love to travel the globe sharing the stories of others. I do that now, debunking myths about the Arabic peoples who have welcomed me into their communities.

My trip to Melbourne came with taxi rides. The one there was a quick jump off the airport bus and into a taxi so I wouldn't miss my plane. The driver was from Iraq. He was Shia and we had a conversation about the Shia and Suni conflicts. Interesting as I've not really explored the Shia side too much. He gave me a website to look at, I will get there some day soon.

On the way home, complete with some duty free for my drinks cupboard, I hitched a ride in a taxi with a man who jumped the queue. The taxi driver was accommodating, the other passenger not so. Bet he's telling his friends in Aus about this cheeky New Zealander who jumped in the back. The driver and I had a chuckle after we had dropped him off. He paid of course.

Seems the driver was Serbian, just like the driver I had had on a previous trip. They knew each other well of course. The previous driver shared the history of conflict in his country, very interesting. He was heading off home for the winter, home to his farm and vineyard to do the necessary summer work.

My favourite so far is the driver originally from Egypt. We sat outside chatting for a while after we had arrived at my place. Talking about the troubles in Egypt and the general destabilisation of the Middle East by other nations. Now there's news from Palestine, more news that should make us all feel outrage. Military sanctioned murder. News that made my heart hurt this morning.

So every ride is an adventure, an opportunity to learn some more about this wonderfully diverse world we live in. I've also met a new friend from Iran. He's Jewish, Persian, and very knowledgable about the history and struggles of his beautiful country and it's neighbours. It's so interesting to learn about Jewish history, about the places in the world where there are original populations of Jewish peoples.

So it's turned out that far  from being isolated and away from the world in New Zealand, this small  welcoming country just east of Australia, the diversity in this city means debate and conversation is not far away. I just need to call a taxi.

Sunrise at the edge of Rub Al Khali


Sabra Divis said...

I also think that taxi drivers are the most interesting people in the world. They get to find out a lot about people through those tiny chitchats they have from their everyday passengers. They learn a lot about living, laughing and loving life by seeing the world through the different faces and personalities they drive around. :D

Sabra Divis @ Downtown Yellow Taxi in Saint Petersburg

Jule's Short Story said...

Thanks for your comment Sabra.
I agree! I have some of the best conversations with taxi drivers and learn about the places to see in the countries I visit from them.The real places. I need to add to this entry really and include the taxi driver in Nepal who had to drop off some things to his family on the way so I got to share some tea with them; the one in Jerusalem who took me to all the sights and talked history and politics; the very special man who shared Jordan with us; so many stories to tell. Best I get writing.