Taxi wisdom


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Writing this on my Blackberry so excuse the typos.

I decided I wanted, nay, needed to go swimming last night and it was rainy all day, so I stubbornly decided I needed to go to the only Fitness First pool that’s indoors… Far away in Taman Anggrek.

I impulsively jumped in a dodgy non-bluebird cab and off we went. The roads were so jammed up that we had to go the long way through back streets of dodgy West Jakarta kampungs.

I spent most of the ride staring out the windows in silence. When I’m not in a rush sometimes I don’t mind the traffic. There’s always something to look at in this town.

But I was getting bored. The driver took the chance to spark up a conversation while I watched a cockroach traverse the dirty car window.

“Don’t worry, nona, I’m only not taking the tollroad because of the traffic.”
“That’s ok, I know Pak. Always traffic.”
“Some people feel scared not to take a bluebird. Some foreigners only ride bluebird.”
“Ah, I’m not scared, pak, it’s ok.”
“You know what you should do is always remember the number on the door of the taxi, non. Even though the drivers have identity cards (on the dashboard) sometimes they are not theirs. If you have trouble, you can call for help and it makes it easier for the police to know what taxi you are on.”
“Thank you Pak.”

On the way home, it was my turn to give advice.

At first I was confused about what the driver was saying. I thought he wanted me to pay a toll but we hadn’t passed a tollroad. Then I realised he wanted me to teach him how to ask for a toll in English. He said he often had trouble if he picked foreigners up because they thought he was trying to rip them off on the toll.

So we went over and over the phrase ‘ you need to pay the toll now please.’

He said he was studying english. I asked him where he was learning and he said he just studied tv shows and love songs. We then discussed the differences between highways, tollroads and normal streets. I tried to teach him how to say ‘ the tollroad has a traffic jam’ but by then I was home.

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