Saturday, May 10, 2014

NY Taxi Drivers

Red Baron likes to walk for miles particularly in foreign cities but given the distances I took a cab a couple of times during my recent visit to New York. The drivers I had were surely international.
New New York taxicabs: higher, shorter, and made by Ford
The first one was a Russian Jew or rather a Jewish Russian. He told me that his father is a Jew and his mother a Russian. So when he - freshly married to a Byelorussian girl - emigrated to Israel he with his non-Jewish mother was considered just being a Russian. The discriminated and frustrated couple went to the States when his wife, being a programmer, got a job offer from a New York firm. Now she is satisfied but the guy still feels discriminated and is frustrated for his wife earns all the money whereas he being an architect by education drives a New York taxi.

The second guy driving me came from Yemen. He told me that he has three uncles in Germany living in Cologne, Hamburg, and Berlin and he is going to visit this summer. By then his Berlin uncle will have moved to Munich. I informed him that his uncles had chosen the four biggest cities in Germany to live in.

After having stepped off the cab I thought why are those Yemenis in Germany and what are they doing there? Had his uncles got political asylum, but was Yemen not one of those Schurkenstaaten (pariah countries)? Following some research on the Internet I found out that the US consider Yemen to be a Tier 3 country, i.e., the people there are trafficking persons with the Yemeni government not caring at all. In fact, the sea around the Horn of Africa is infested with pirates capturing ships and whole crews demanding for their liberation ransom from shipping companies and governments.

The third guy did not speak to me at all but driving with only one hand was talking nonstop into his mobile phone. I recognized many French words and thought his language might be Creole. When leaving the cab I asked him but he said that he was from Ghana.

The language he spoke made me curious. In the German Wikipedia I read: English is Ghana's official language but in Ghana more than eighty different languages are used such that most Ghanaians speak several of them. The government pushes French as an additional language such that since 2006 Ghana is an associated member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Do they need a second lingua franca or don't they like English? It was a pity that I could not ask my taxi driver those questions and above all test his personal language skills.

New York taxi drivers surely are cosmopolitan.

1 comment:

  1. It's great that you found some great taxi drivers while on the road. The fact that you were able to chat with them means that the ride must had been quite pleasant. New York, like most big cities, is a melting pot. It's not a surprise you have encountered taxi drivers of different nationalities there. You might even find someone who speaks German! That would be something!

    Grady Mann @ St. Petersburg Yellow Taxi