After the usual “Where to?” and “Which route?” formalities, I had barely settled into the taxi when the driver began his inquiry.
Usually it would be yours truly who would be the investigating officer trying for some tid bits from the driver for some material for this blog. But this time the driver got lucky.
‘So where from, young man?” , he began. That one question pleased me no bounds and eradicated all the ‘feelings’ that I had developed upon myself because of the many school children who had called me ‘Uncle’.
So I answered as any young man would, but with a little emphasis on the tone.
‘Well, I am from India and…’.
‘That I know young man. You would be from India and would probably be in the IT, right ?’, he interrupted.
However his interruption did not annoy me as he had addressed me again as ‘young man’.
‘Yes, IT’, I said.
‘I know, anybody boarding a taxi at this un-earthly hour at Changi Biz Park with a leather bag would need to be an IT guy from India’, he said nonchalantly.
I was praising his keen sense of observation when something struck me as odd. He has until then spoken impeccable English and not the usual Singlish that taxi drivers speak resort to.
To my surprise he further said,’Let me make a guess. You are wondering how come a lowly taxi driver speaks passable english, right?’
I was impressed for sure, as his diction was not only passable but also sounded un-Singaporean taxi lingo. I blushed ‘Yes’.
‘Now you would have guessed I am not an ordinary taxi driver. So, could you guess what I am or rather was ?’, he threw me a challenge.
I had no clue but had heard horror stories earlier on this topic. So I chose a decent option and said ,’ You should have been a school teacher’.
‘Nope. Not even close’. he said. I didn’t have the energy for any mental challenge, having been an audience to pointless banter for close to four hours euphemistically called ‘Status Meeting’. I gave up.
It eventually turned out that he was an ex-entrepreneur who had mining interests in Indonesia and was bankrupted during the Asian financial crisis. Fortunately for him, his citizenship ensured that he could drive a taxi in Singapore. Having been an entrepreneur himself, he was not willing to work under anybody and had chosen to drive taxis in Singapore.
‘You know something ? Never believe what America says. What is says is only for the others to believe. If you follow their economic model, you are sure to be doomed. If you are not convinced, read this book ,’Confessions of an Economic Hit Man’ by Perkins…’
I don’t think much of what he said went into my head. I was actually jolted by his reality speak.
Not being able to come to terms with his reality, I just tried putting myself in his shoes and closed my eyes for a while.
The word ‘Capitalism’ appeared within my eye-lids and suddenly transformed into the ‘skull-bone’ symbol.