We’ve heard horror stories of discrimination in Singapore, from racism against tudung wearers, to ang moh panderers.
But one taxi uncle has shown that we can all get along just fine.
This is Irfan Musthapa’s story of a kind cabby he met during the Mid-Autumn Festival:
“Uncle: Hi good afternoon Sir. Where to Sir?
It was noon & with mooncake boxes on hand, I boarded the taxi, ready to gift mooncakes to our clients. This is a tradition of our organization & makes part of a relationship building process – in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Uncle: You also like to eat Mooncakes?
Me: Oh thanks for asking Uncle. These mooncakes are not for me, Uncle. They are for my customers.
The taxi ride to the customer’s place was filled with rich conversation. Taxi uncle in his 60s sharing with me powerful (and sure-fire) tips on staying healthy.
Me: Uncle, you are in your 60s but look like you’re in your 40s…
Uncle: I have a secret to share. You must always think positive and keep yourself happy. And for me, I do breathing exercise twice a day. Do at least 10-minutes of slow and full breathing twice a day. That helps me keep fit. Take care of yourself. You are still young
Upon reaching the customer’s site, I settled with the taxi uncle & thanked him for the pleasant ride.
Passed on the mooncakes to the customer and had to get to my next destination for lunch. No nearby bus stops so I decided I had to take a taxi.
Guess what? Same taxi uncle was there hoping to find a passenger. Again, I boarded his taxi.
Uncle: Wow, today lucky day for me. Don’t have to wait too long and I get the same passenger!
Me: Uncle, no It’s my lucky day. If not for you I have to wait long time for taxi here.
Me: Uncle, you may stop me at any nearby coffeeshop. I would like to have lunch.
Uncle: Sure. Hey, don’t mind me asking. Are you Muslim? I will bring you to the coffeeshop with more food for you. Better for you.
Me: Yes uncle. Please do. Hope there is one near here.
Uncle: Have, quite near. Can I have lunch with you too? I’m getting hungry as well.
Me: Yes, why not Uncle.
We reached the lunch place. It was awkward as there was no business/friendship/family relationship between Uncle and me after that taxi ride. There wasn’t anything in it for us to be having lunch together (not family, not friends yet, not colleagues). But there we were, having lunch at the same table. We had a good chat about life and filial piety in the short lunch time.
Uncle: What drink you want?
After countless attempts of profusely refusing Uncle’s unsolicited generosity, I gave up & allowed a display of unsolicited generosity by Uncle.
This simple journey led to me going into a mode of self-realisation. I have penned down here some lessons learned with most of it being a reminder to me & possibly to all reading this.
1. There should be no hierarchy in life.
2. Obstacles to mutual respect are unnatural & can be easily overcome.
3. Respect one and all.
4. Celebrate diversity & inclusivity
5. Give thanks.
*Premier Taxi Uncle. Unfortunately I did not take down your name/mobile number but here’s thanks to you & wish you all the best!”