Just now, my husband and I watched the movie Taxi! Taxi!- A Singaporean production based on the once famous blog of the (Phd) Professor of Microbiology, who lost his job and became a taxi driver in Singapore, where as a local, he became too expensive to be employed and where younger and cheaper ‘foreign talents’ are preferred. The movie has it all, the comedy, the sarcasm, the didactic ‘heroic’ speech, the intensity of the real ‘heartlander’ Singaporean issues and the poke at the government’s foreign talent policy, which seems to be the never ending grouse on just about every Singaporean’s lips right now. It was all so hilarious for me, who understood the Singlish lingo and also the context in which each scene was played out, while the husband was a bit clueless at some jokes and punchlines which are exclusively Singaporean.
My father retired from his job and became a full time taxi driver upon retirement. He keeps saying, in his taxi, he sees life and the world. The same thing the Gurmit Singh character said in the movie. My husband and I also have a good friend in Sydney, Yoshi –who is officially a Phd candidate at UNSW but drives taxi at night on the streets of Sydney to provide for his family. It is an interesting business, Yoshi told us– where he met all sorts of people one can ever imagine.
Here in Malaysia, I don’t drive at all. I go anywhere and everywhere in taxis. I cannot function if there are no cabs around as I could hardly rely on the public buses and trains are far from my place. In my own little world, taxi drivers are my heroes and I always make a point to tip them, even if by just a few lose change. Like the character played by Mark Lee said in the movie, ‘Why are you ashamed to be a taxi driver? You think if there are no taxis, Singapore can function?’. This reminded me of a friend back in secondary school. She was ashamed of her father being a taxi driver that she lied to us that her father was a businessman. I had always wondered why she was ashamed. It was not as if her father was a pimp or a secret society member. He was a decent taxi driver, one of the most interesting jobs in the world, I think.