Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Let them praise cabbies

I have to blog about my encounters with cabbies in the US. No, please take your mind out of the gutter, an encounter meaning just that - a 30-40 minute cab ride usually to or from airports in Chicago or New York.

The thing is - I love to chat with cabbies, find out where they are from (its never anywhere as prosaic as Iowa) and lately I have taken to asking them where they go to eat authentic food from their country.

The reason this comes up is that I was too lazy to drive and park at the Oakland airport for the trip to Vegas my mom and I took, and so I called a cab suggested by the security guy in my building. The driver turned out to be an Algerian, called Atmun (or something that sounds like that - I am going by phonetic memory). Having eaten Moroccan food at dinner just the previous day, I had to ask him where he went for Algerian food in the Bay area and he said sadly, "Nowhere." But he/they would go to eat Moroccan at a small place in the city , "Umm at Geary and Jones", he said. Which was exactly where my hole-in-the-wall Moroccan, Tajine was. "Ha, long live Chowhound!" I thought to myself.

We reached the airport and he promised to come pick us up on Monday at 1:30 AM which is when our flight back from Vegas was (damn Expedia). I tipped him 20% and he actually gave me back a couple of bucks and said, "Too much. Your mum, she reminds me of my mum." After that ultimate Bollywood ishtyle line, I had no option but to take it back sheepishly.

We land, half an hour late on Monday early AM, wondering if the cab was waiting. Yes, he was and this time he carries out our carry-on from inside the terminal to his cab in the rain, pays for parking and refuses any tip (or even for parking) over and above the flat rate the cab company normally charges. "This is a ride for you mum, yes." And he drives away. And I ponder how my cabby experiences in this country are pretty good normally.

Memorable ones: the cabby in Manhattan who wouldn't take any money from me, when excited by his speaking in Bangla on his cell I just had to ask, "Dada, apni Bangali?" The very next day, I heard another cabby talk in Bangla on his cell but was very very careful to not talk to him in Bengali. On reaching my destination, he says, "Apni Bangali, na?" with a huge smile and refuses the fare. [Digression: Am I THAT obviously Bangali??] I was embarassed and humbled. Not that it ever happened to me again. The one in Chicago who had managed a large car dealership before he became schizophrenic and his wife left him. The one in Vegas who was from Romania, whose best friend was of Indian origin from Guyana (apparently brother to Shakira Caine!) and he had kicked a gambling habit and moved to Vegas (the irony!!).

On the other hand my friend G, who was my roommate in Evanston, kept bumping into cabbies (and also the janitor in our school) who wanted her to marry (or at least meet) their sons (er one at a time of course) who were inevitably "doctors in California". Is there a moral here somewhere?

11 Comments:

Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Would you believe it, I've only taken a cab once in the US (Cabs in LA are bloody expensive), and I was too drunk for conversation (besides, I was making out with my date).

But I've encountered Bangladeshi street vendors in Rome who've either refused to accept money or undercharged when they found out I was Bengali. My friend Becks was amazed that a language could work such instant magic!

April 19, 2006 10:23 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

And oh, I knew you would definitely make it to Lotus of Siam. Did you have the Nam Sod (the fresh Isaan style sausages) there? Apparently they make some of the best in the US.

Is it in downtown Vegas? Then I can definitely convince S to take me there.

April 19, 2006 10:25 PM  
Blogger Gamesmaster G9 said...

Sorry to have to point this out to you, but you have Bengaliness plastered all over your face. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

April 20, 2006 2:25 AM  
Anonymous bulididi said...

according to shubho, apparently bengali/bangladeshi cab drivers love to see an affluent bengali availing of their services.

at the lower end of the socio-economic strata, theirs is a cramped existance (a dozen sharing a room ).mentally--they are a stranger in a strange land.

hence-- aha mori bangla bhasha!

does this hold true for punjabi cab drivers too, out there in the golden west?

April 20, 2006 12:14 PM  
Blogger J said...

i'm not a bangali, i've just lived in kolkata for very long, and people still think ami bangali

April 20, 2006 9:59 PM  
Blogger Rapid I Movement said...

You are supposed to be able to smell out a Bong from a mile. I know I can and I know that all other Bongs I know can:)

It's so totally adorable!

April 25, 2006 6:16 PM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Swati, shotyi - A mori Bangla bhasha and all that, hmm?
Actually I did not eat the nam Sod, though it was on my list, I instead tried the Nam Kao Tod (See here - Scroll to the very end of the page) on the suggestion of the server. It was exactly like jhalmuri with garlicky sausage. And hot enough to blow my mind and er remind me next morning! Good stuff!
Lotus of Siam is not on the strip but it is really close - about $5 by cab from the Sahara monorail station. You have to go!!

Ani, right, whatever. Grr.

Bulididi, Shubho is probably right to quite an extent. I haven't had the same experience really with Punjabi taxi-drivers though. And the Bengali cabbies are pretty much all Bangladeshi rather than Indian.

j, that is a short monicker! You reminded me of the other end of the spectrum, my tailor in Kolkata who is a Sardarji complete with turban and yet writes all his measurements down in Bangla!

Hiya rapid i, hmmm adorable, eh? It is rather. Reminds me of the older gentleman maitre'd at an Indian restaurant in Santa Monica who promptly invited me over to meet his family and get fed (proper bangali khabar according to him) by his wife when he saw my name on the credit card. Oh and the gentleman at my favorite little divey Indian place in the west side of LA who would ply me with good raita and other freebies because he found out that I was from Calcutta. He was not Bengali or from Calcutta even but his wife's maika was in Calcutta!

I'd better stop right here or I will go on forever with 'freebies from fellow bangalis (or desis or general some ethnic group)' stories. I guess I meet a lot of very nice and kind-hearted people, thats all.

April 26, 2006 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Celia said...

This article is fantastic; the information you show us is interesting for everybody and is really good written. It’s just great!! Do you want to know something more? Read it... Glass Bongs and Bong featuring Herbal Smoke, water bongs, bongs online head shop, Marijuana Alternative,glass water bongs, Hashish, Ganja, homemade bongs, Smokeshop, cannibis, legal smoking alternatives for herbal highs and aphrodisia. http://www.headshopinternational.com

March 17, 2007 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you like cabbie stories, check out http://lvcabbiechronicles.blogspot.com

This guy writes some great stories.

May 14, 2007 2:53 PM  
Anonymous new house said...

companies marketing mineral makeups and also get the best bargains in mineral makeup you can imagine,
find aout how to consolidate your students loans or just how to lower your actual rates.,
looking for breast enlargements? in Rochester,
homeopathy for eczema learn about it.,
Allergies, information about lipitor,
save big with great bargains in mineral makeup,

change edition interviewing motivational people preparing second
,

interviewing motivational people preparing second time
,

interviewing people motivational preparing for a second time
,

black mold exposure
,

black mold exposure symptoms
,

black mold symptoms of exposure
,

free job interview questions
,

free job interview answers
,

interview answers to get a job
,

lookfor hair styles for fine thin hair
,

search hair styles for fine thin hair
,

hair styles for fine thin hair
,

beach resort in the philippines
,

great beach resort in the philippines
,

luxury beach resort in the philippines
,
iron garden gates, here,
iron garden gates,
wrought iron garden gates
, here
,
wrought iron garden gates
,
You: The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger
,
eat eating mindless more than think we we why
,


texturizer,
texturizers here,
black hair texturizer,
find aout how care curly hair,
find about how to care curly hair,
care curly hair,
lipitor rash,
lipitor reactions,
new house ventura california,
the house new houston tx,
new house washington dc,
new house pa philadelphia,
san antonio tx house new,
house new pa philadelphia,
new house washington dc,
new house ventura california,
the house new houston tx,
house new san antonio tx,
the house new houston tx, that you are looking for,
new house ventura california, you need to buy,
new house washington dc,
house new pa philadelphia,
new house san antonio tx,

hair surgery transplant
,

air filter allergy
,

refurbished dell laptop computers
,

hair surgery transplant
,

air filter allergy
,

refurbished dell laptop computers
,

hair surgery transplant
,

air filter allergy
,

refurbished dell laptop computers
,

chocolate esophagus heartburn study
,

chocolate esophagus heartburn study
be informed,

digestion healing healthy heartburn natural preventing way
,

digestion healing healthy heartburn natural preventing way
,
sew skirts, 16simple styles you can make!,
sew what skirts 16 simple styles you,
rebates and discounts on sunsetter awnings,
sunsetter awnings discounts and rebates,
discount on sunsetter awnings


truck and bus tires 12r 22.5, get the best price,
tires truck and bus 12r 22.5 best price,
tires truck bus tires12r 22.5 best price,
plush car seat strap covers,
car seat strap covers,plush,
car seat strap, plush covers,
oscoda voip phone systems, the best!,
oscoda voip the phone system,
oscoda voip phone systems,
exterior iron gates,
oriental wrought iron gates,
powder coated iron garden fencing,

February 07, 2008 12:35 PM  
Anonymous mieral makeup said...

black mold exposure,
black mold symptoms of exposure,

wrought iron garden gates,
your next iron garden gates, here,

hair styles for fine thin hair,
search hair styles for fine thin hair,

night vision binoculars,
buy, night vision binoculars,

lipitor reactions,
lipitor reactions,

luxury beach resort in the philippines,
beach resort in the philippines,

homeopathy for baby eczema.,
homeopathy for baby eczema.,

save big with great mineral makeup bargains,
companies marketing mineral makeups,

prodam iphone praha,
Apple prodam iphone praha,

iphone clone cect manual,
manual for iphone clone cect,

fero 52 binoculars night vision,
fero 52 night vision,

best night vision binoculars,
buy, best night vision binoculars,

computer programs to make photo albums,
computer programs, make photo albums,

March 27, 2008 7:23 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home