Nasir, my cabbie
I usually ride with a friend to work every morning, but whenever he has to work earlier than usual, I call Nasir to take me. He’s from Pakistan, of the same age as I am and is a good man. He can barely speak English – he knows maybe less than ten phrases – but we magically manage to engage in conversation all throughout the 30-minute rides to work.
You see, all Nasir needs are “prompts”. I’ll blurt out a topic and he’ll spend the next ten minutes elaborating on it. Never mind that I don’t understand anything he says.
Some prompts given during this morning’s pleasant drive:
“It’s almost National Day”
“The cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka”
“It’s getting colder and colder every day”
On Wednesday Nasir seemed like he was down with a case of the flu – there were lots of coughing and clearing of throats during that not-so-pleasant drive.
Before I got off the cab, I handed him a pack of lozenges that I found in my bag.
Nasir declined my token. “Very sweet!” he argued. “Very bad for—-” I guess he
didn’t know how to say the word “throat” so he just pointed to his.
I tried to explain to him what lozenges are for, that they actually help aid sore throats.
Nasir eventually gave in and accepted them, but I suspect he just wanted me to get the hell out of his cab so he could move on with his day.
That night I bumped into Nasir in our apartment block, waiting in the designated cab queue for passengers.
“Very sweet!” he said, showing me the pack of lozenges, “but very good!”
He pointed to his throat. “Okay, okay!” he said.