Monday, August 31, 2009

The most educated taxi driver in the world

In Singapore, there is one particular taxi driver who holds a Doctor of Philosophy or PHD from Stanford University.

In his blog, he said he is probably the only taxi driver in the world with a PhD in Biochemistry from Stanford University and a proven track record of scientific accomplishments.

He had been forced out of his research job in Singapore at the height of his scientific career, and unable to find another another job.

As a result, he drives taxi to make a living.

He has a blog : where he wrote about his daily experience with his passengers.

This are among his blog entries :

April 21, 2009. Tuesday: Mutual understanding

(1) In the afternoon peak hours, a European man in his mid thirties boarded my taxi at the International Business Park in Jurong East and told me to go to Riverview hotel. He looked exhausted from the work of the day.

“Tuesday night must be boring in Singapore, huh?” He said with a lazy, European-accented voice, after making himself comfortable in the back seat.

“Depends,” I replied absently, while keeping my eyes on the traffic in front of me. “In some parts of the town, every night is Friday night.”

I had no idea why I said that. Maybe I was just trying to be nice to a hard-working foreigner, or maybe I was just making a conversation. At any rate, I immediately wished that I hadn’t said it, because I am not exactly very knowledgeable in that topic.

The man promptly bounced from the back seat and arched his body forward so that he could hear my next answers clearly. “Tell me, boss, where can I get sexual massage?” He asked the question in a way as if he was asking about the best chicken rice stall in town.

I knew this was coming. I rolled my eyes at him and answered reluctantly, “my guess would be Geylang.”

“What nationalities are the girls there?” His interest grew more intense now.

“All kinds. Chinese, Thai, Indonesian. You name it.” I put in use what I learned from a German customer just a few days ago.

“Can you find me a place that has Japanese girls?”

“Well, that’s a very good question.” I paused. The German guy never mentioned anything about Japanese girls. After a moment of appearing to be thinking really hard, I said, “sorry, I can’t think of any place like that.”

Unimpressed, he sank back into his seat and didn’t say much after that.

The fair at the end was $15.20. He gave me two $10 notes and asked aloofly, “I don’t suppose you could give me a 20c discount?”

“I would, if you give me a $5 tip,” I replied.

“No, no, no.” He shook his head like he had just come out of a swimming pool. “Not this time. Not in the middle of the economic crises.”

“Fine. So we understand each other.” I grinned at him, while giving him a $5 note back nonetheless.

He put a 20c coin in my hand as he took away his change. After that, he said goodnight and stepped out.


Late at night, picked up three young ladies from Tanjong Katong. One of the ladies keyed something into a mobile phone and showed it to me. It took me a while to decipher the fine letters on the old, smudging LCD screen, “Joo Chiat. Is this where you want to go?” I asked. They chuckled but no words came out of their mouths. I assumed that it was.

All three appeared to be in their mid or late twenties and were dressed in a similar manner. Low-cut tank tops and tight and short jeans shorts or skirt. Along with the overdone makeup, their profession was written on their faces in capital letters.

On the way, they were talking with each other in a language that sounded completely alien to me. I tried to speak English with them and they just chuckled, without a spoken response.

“Where are you come from?” I asked. They giggled to each other and then said something to me in their own language. Though I didn’t know any of their words, it was apparent that neither did they know mine.

“Where is your home?” I tried again. Only met with more chuckles.

“Home. Your don’t know home?”

No response.

“Where are your mama and papa?”

Bingo, they understood this time.

“Vietnam.” They said in unison, followed by yet another burst of giggles.

That’s all I was interested in knowing. I drove along quietly after that. But I had also learned something else. In some parts of the town, I realized, the “official” language being used in daily business is not English, not Chinese, not any other written and spoken languages that we know of.

It is the body language.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...