I had to make quite a few journeys within London last month.
London has excellent public transportation, and I could have made those journeys by bus, but that would have involved a little more effort on my part, effort I was not ready to make. My excuse is that I had to take Ebaby along with me, and I didn’t want the hassles of hauling her buggy on and off a bus. Plus the journey would have taken a lot longer. And what if she had decided she wanted a feed while we were on the bus? I’d have had to haul out the necessary apparatus whilst being in close proximity to total strangers who might or might not have caught a glimpse of the said apparatus. Anyways, that’s why I didn’t go by bus.
I could have driven, but I have not driven solo in London yet. I’m sure I can drive as well as the rest of them, but somehow I did not think driving with a possibly wailing baby in the backseat, as well as with an eye that needed surgical attention was the best time to put my theory to the test. So I did not drive.
This leads me on to the title of this post. I had to take minicabs (which is the name taxis go by over here). Ebaby and I enjoyed the ease of travel. And I got to meet some characters drivers.
One of them, Sonny, was Nigerian. I took his cab three or four times, and we had many interesting conversations, about Nigeria, about the state of the roads in Nigeria, about the fact that I was way overdue for a visit to Nigeria (the last time I was home was in 1995) etc. One conversation stood out in my mind though. It was in the aftermath of the snowy weather we’d had, and there was snow on the sides of the roads.
“Look at that” he gesticulated, waving wildly at the snow. “With all their talk of global warming, they still could not prevent it from snowing”
I cleared my throat and was just about to explain to him that the freak snow was actually as a result of global warming when he suddenly exclaimed “They are talking of global warming. They want to warm up the whole world. Is such a thing possible? Why couldn’t they warm up the sky and prevent this snow from falling?”
I was speechless. As soon as he paused for breath, I steered the conversation back to Nigeria, and the state of her roads.
Juliano, was from Brazil. Very friendly, he asked me what Ebaby’s name was, and remembered it the next time he picked me up. We talked about Brazil, and Brazilian food. I love food. He told me about the trip he’d made to South Africa with his ex-girlfriend, and about how racist he’d found it. He said in Brazil, they had people of different colours, and it wasn’t a big deal, they all got along. We talked some more about food. The third time he picked me, he made a detour just so I could buy some authentic Brazilian food from a street vendor. The food was seriously yummy, he’s officially my favourite cab driver.
Errol, very vocal Jamaican. He told me about how vexed he used to get when Africans got into his cab and tried to haggle over the price. He said he finally got it when he went to Gambia on holiday, and realized it was a way of life for most Africans, not an attempt to raise his blood pressure. He talked about the mouth-watering seafood he’d had in Goa, and about how romantic Venice is. He said T and I must go to Venice, without the kids. We will. And hopefully, we’ll get to go to Goa too. Because I love food, especially seafood. I love to travel too.
The other driver I’m going to tell you about, I don’t know his name. He was an elderly Nigerian, his minicab looked like a hearse, and it stank of urine. Understandably, I wasn’t inclined to chat. I made a mental decision to inform the cab company to never ever send him on a job for me again, but I thought it’s a one-off, and I don’t want to impede his chances of getting future bookings etc. He was a baba, from my country, and I felt for him, even though I could barely breathe.
On my last visit to the hospital, I called for a cab again. A voice told me to insist that I didn’t want Baba, but I thought, hey, what are the odds?
My phone rang to announce the arrival of the cab, and my heart sank as I heard Baba’s voice. Maybe he’s changed his car, I consoled myself. I walked outside and my heart sank further as I saw the hearse.
I got in the cab, and it stank. I was tempted to mix things up a bit by farting, but I restrained myself. Then Baba cranked up the heating. I was baking in a stinking hearse. I had rebuffed his attempts at conversation by replying as tersely as I could, while still remaining polite. Baba was my countryman, an older one at that, and thus was to be accorded respect, stinky cab or not. I asked him to please turn down the heating, he responded by lowering the windows. Blessed relief. I sucked in the ice-cold air greedily, like I was Ebaby having a feed.
Next time I need a minicab, I’ll tell them to please not send Baba.
Thanks for stopping by :).