Taking taxis during my travels have actually provided for some good memories and experiences. I remember taking a taxi in Kazakhstan and spending the entire ride being taught Kazakh words and phrases by the driver. For some reason, he kept quizzing me to see if I actually remembered what we were saying, which is cool. I can handle a free language lesson any day!
Last night, Pat and I took a taxi home from Balmain after meeting up with Lauren Fritsky and crew for trivia (team Notorious P.A.T.), and our taxi driver let us in on his world. The insight you can pick up from these guys is just amazing.
The best experience I’ve ever had from a taxi was in Bishkek.
In places like Kyrgyzstan, anyone that has a car is a potential taxi driver. You simply go to the side of the street, flag your hand out (kind of pointing down) and out of nowhere a car pops up waiting for an offer. It really is crazy once you think about it, but it is the way of the land over there.
One day, my friends and I went outside our apartment to where a group of guys was waiting with their cars and gathered the interest and offer from one man in particular, a man that pretty much became our personal taxi driver from then on.
Mustafa was the man, and he was supposedly a heart surgeon from Turkey who was now in Bishkek making more money than in his previous life by driving a taxi. I found that point confusing, but he was a nice man, always willing to chit-chat as he took us to where we wanted to go.
One day the topic of why we were there, and where we lived came up. I, at the time, was planning on coming back to Bishkek to do some more language study, and that’s when Mustafa made an offer.
He offered to open up his home to me plus 3 meals a day for a small monthly price (I think in the $250 range). Me… with his family… his daughters… in one house. He scribbled down his phone number and passed the paper over to me; I slipped it in my notebook to keep just in case.
Sadly, I never made use of that offer. When you’re in a place like Bishkek, offers like these are generally done because the locals just need money and partially because they see a foreign girl alone and want to make sure she is safe. It’s a win-win situation… unless of course living with them ended up being bizarre.
It’s probably best I didn’t take up the offer.