Wise words from taxi drivers

Our columnist shares some words of wisdom from UAE taxi drivers.

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We often learn the most important lessons from unlikely sources. I have always found taxis to be a goldmine for nuggets of wisdom and UAE cabbies are no different.

I use a taxi to make an average of 15 journeys a week and in my experience the cabbies here are friendly, helpful and often have a wisdom that can only come from tough life experiences.

A few days ago I was home-bound in a cab when we were stuck in a minor traffic jam.

In front of us was a school bus full of enthusiastic children celebrating their forthcoming holidays.

By celebrating, this means a group of them squashing their cheeks against the back windows making faces, waving at us and play wrestling.

My taxi driver stared at the scene wistfully.

He went on to recall his school years in Pakistan where, instead of taking a bus, he would walk two kilometres daily to class along a rugged path which also included crossing a small stream.

"It is easier now with school buses but for us it was just as fun as these kids are having," he said.

"I can tell you now that I am old that it was a hard walk, but back then it was no different, for children it is all just fun."

In another encounter, an experienced taxi driver was telling me his secret for continually reaching his financial target without working too hard.

"If they all turn left, I turn right," he said.

"If I see too many taxis in the airport I will just go somewhere else. You have to think smart and not just keep following people."

My favourite advice came from a lovesick cabbie in Dubai last week. We knew each other for only 15 minutes but that was enough for him to tell me of his affection for a regular expatriate passenger and how he was petrified of asking her out.

He finally decided, without prompting from me, that he could no longer live in fear.

"If she thinks of me as just some Pakistani taxi driver, then her loss!" he said.

"I am me, that's the only way I can be, you understand?"

Yes I do.