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Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Today was Monday so I rose early and went out to second campus by the uni bus at 7.20am. I taught freshmen oral English until 10am and then caught a taxi back home. It is not expensive to catch a taxi here, but it is often exciting, if sometimes dangerous. Today the driver was an anachronism in physical appearance. He looked exactly like a cartoon version of a 1950s/early 1960s American hipster: about 30 years old, in a wide-lapelled, double breasted jacket with a dark shirt underneath, ‘cool’ sunglasses, a prickly black goatee beard with matching moustache, and a crazy haircut not unlike an old flat-top Kramer cut from those decades. When I sat down, he said ‘Hell oh’, gunned the tincan taxi out into the traffic, then grinned and said, all as one phrase, ‘Hell oh sit down pleeze’. I immediately liked his way of driving - fearless, fast and lyrical. He drove like I imagine Dean Moriarty of On the Road fame would have driven – or maybe the real man behind the wheel of Keroauc’s novel, Neal Cassidy. My driver knew where every inch of outside skin on his tincan was, and he ducked and dived through the slenderest alleyways of traffic like some kind of animal … In fact. that was it!, the tincan was an extension of himself and he was ducking and jiving like an Aboriginal Aussie rules football player. And when the opposition defence got too obstructive – four lanes of raggedy parked traffic at the red light, with bicycles and pedestrians all taking up any inch of space - he took off the road and went around that corner on a broad footpath! Hah! He did it all so effortlessly and with such clear-eyed athleticism that I just sat there and marvelled. I don’t know how he didn’t hit anybody or cause an accident, but he did it languorously, driving me home quicker and smoother than any other taxi-driving maniac in this crazy city.

He REAL cool
He no need no driving school
He a crazy Zen-driving fool
Playing the road like he’s shooting pool …

(... with suitable apologies to Gwendolyn Brooks)

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