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Sunday, November 29, 2009

taking a short break.......

Hello Folks, I am going overseas for the next few days, and will be back most probably by Wed. 2nd Dec. so, until then, CHEERS !

Friday, November 27, 2009

one more month to go....


Its the end of the 2nd month and I have yet to award my PROMO offer of $1/- taxi ride to anywhere in Singapore, inclusive of all surcharges for anyone who can spot me. I will now give you yet another easy clue to help you spot me, this time a more obvious one. If you are lucky enough to board my cab, look out for two stickers (photo above), one pasted on the left rear window and another one on the glove box cover, in front of the front passenger seat which you cannot miss. I am also going to shift the small miniature yellow coloured NYC taxi model onto the left side top of the dashboard to make it more visible by the 1st of Dec, so keep your eyes peeled for these very clear giveaway clues when you catch a cab the next time, you may be the lucky one before my offer ends on 31st Dec 2009. Remember to identify me as Uncle Frank and you will be eligible for my promo offer!
Everytime I stop to pick up passengers, be it along the roadside or at taxi stands, I anxiously await that surprise greeting but alas, two months have passed by and I am still not 'caught'. Be alert, have fun and keep trying, there's still one more full month to go, c u......

Thursday, November 26, 2009

maids get 2 days off per week in......

Last night, about 8pm, I picked up a Philippina woman at Lucky Plaza taxi stand. She was going to Flora Road (off Old Tampines Road) to meet her cousin. I asked if she was living and working here and was surprised when she told me "No way, Singapore is the worst paymaster, my cousin works here as a maid and her pay is only $400 plus, she only gets one day off every week and have to work long hours, including washing her employer's car."
"Oh, so you are holidaying and visiting friends in Singapore?" She said no, in fact she will be going to Ontario, Canada, to work there, job confirmed, taking over her elder sister's job as a maid. Her sis wants to continue to study and become a nurse and her boss has accepted her as Paula's replacement. She continued telling me that her sis, Paula, gets paid Canadian $1,600 per month and after deductions for lodging, insurance for health and employment and contributions, like Singapore's CPF, she still gets more than Cad$1,000 and on top of that, she only has to work 8 hours a day including having saturdays and sundays off every week.
"Wow, is that true?" I exclaimed, and she said "Of course its true, my sis Paula works there for the past 3 years already, she got her PR after 2 years and can get to become a Canadian citizen after 3 years, which she has already applied, its their law there. Do you know, a maid there is not required to do housework but only looks after the employer's children?"
"That's fantastic, hey, you speak perfect English and by the way what's your name?"
"Dionne, thank you, I studied English in Manila and you know, Paula's employer treats her very, very well, even buys her a brand new bicycle for her own use and allows her to take driving lessons too. Paula's boss is a bank officer, his wife is a nurse and they have 3 children. Once Paula's citizenship is obtained, she can sponsor our whole family from Manila to immigrate there. Maids are entitled according to the laws in Canada, I am happy and looking forward to work there, thats why I am visiting my cousin here to tell her about all this and ask her to join me when her contract ends. Okay Uncle, can stop at the condo on the left, we're here."
She paid her fare and thanked me and I said "Thank you very much, you are so kind and I really enjoyed listening to you, my best wishes to you and God bless. Good night."
Well, that was very refreshing and interesting don't you think? As I have said before, we keep on learning everyday. Its now approaching 9pm, ah yes, there is a 24-hour coffeeshop at Drive 6, Pasir Ris, yes, thats right, that's where I'm heading to......

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

interesting holiday excursions....

You know, most of us Singaporeans like to go for holidays overseas, to visit, to relax, to go sight seeing, to experience different life styles, enjoy flying and getting easily excited about the preparations to become tourists in a foreign land, but if you were to ask the majority whether they have been or seen or even experienced our own local attractions which are also plentiful, you will be surprised that most of us are totally unaware or ignorant as to what our own country can offer us in terms of relaxation and excitement. 
Ask yourself, have I been or discovered the enchantment of the world's first Night Safari? Experienced the exciting adventure of our zoo environment, the vastness of a national wildlife park under the magical night sky, where you can discover and watch the beautiful and unusual wildlife roaming freely in their jungle settings? What about Southeast Asia's largest bird sanctuary, the Jurong Bird Park which has more than 8,000 birds representing about 600 species? Do you know that this Aviary, with a man-made waterfall, is also one of the world's largest? Have you even seen the Musical Fountain with its magical feature of light, laser and music, synchronised with powerful high jets of water to make it truly a spectacular wonder? Just to let you in on it, this is the world's most complex laser-water system and also the first in the world to deploy a fully-digitalised video projection. You should bring your whole family to watch and be thrilled by this particular attraction. I can continue telling you of many, many more interesting places you have not heard or seen and these are all within our reach and from the way I describe them, you might or maybe consider making changes to your future holiday plans. I must admit, I do need a coffee break now because I am getting overly excited myself by just reading what I have written.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unique Christmas experience.......

Christmas is truly a very unique experience in Singapore. I think we celebrate the seasonal spirit with more enthusiasm than many of those in western countries. Our shopping malls and stores are stocked with traditional Christmas food and a wide array of gifts. The beautiful window decorations, colourful lighting, music, together with big video screenings of movie trailers and advertisements, and also not forgetting the heavily decorated hotels bring Christmas cheer to all. Of course the highlights of the season include our phenomenal street light-up, yuletide caroling, fantastic street party and many great performances along Orchard Road. I have always enjoyed driving slowly around these lighted-up roads during this period and my passengers and I have never failed to talk and discuss excitedly about the various pretty decorations and lighting as we pass through. Indeed, it has always been the ultimate season when Singaporeans of all races come together including foreign workers, expats stationed here, as well as visitors from everywhere, unwind in preparation for the new year ahead.

Monday, November 23, 2009

lesser taxi ridership.......

Last night I started driving from usual time around 5.00pm. This was quite an unusual night because by 8.00pm I had only collected metered fares amounting to about $29.00. This amount was way too short of my daily takings and so I decided to take a break and at the same time have an early meal which lasted till 9.00pm. I resumed working non stop till about midnight and not feeling tired, I decided to do overtime after another short break. I counted my takings and it was really bad, only $82.00 I knew it would not be much because I did not ferry enough passengers from the time I started till now and also the trips involved were short ones. I had not driven overnight for quite a long time and so I thought why not continue driving and this time with additional midnight charges added and so by 6.00am, after one more coffee break I was a bit shacked and so had to call it a day. I did my usual taxi wash and clean up then headed home. The total gross income I managed to earn was only $132.00 this was very poor takings and after deducting rental, diesel and sundry expenses, my nett income was $62.00. Taxi ridership has indeed fallen drastically and the lot of us cabbies have to work extra hard to tide over this period of time till near Christmas to recover initial losses with some good bonuses, hopefully........have to go to work now, already 5.00pm.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

usually the Driver only in vehicle........

If you are always on the road like I am, you will notice, especially along highways whether traffic is heavy, slow, moving or plain smooth, that inside most vehicles, most of the time, there is usually only one person in it.... the driver. So, when there is a long stretch of vehicles jammed up, not many complaints are heard from the bulk of the general public but only from the motorists themselves. They drive their vehicles mainly for their own advantage and convenience as well as to flaunt a bit of their wealth. Of course, sometimes it becomes a necessity although it is expensive to own and maintain a car. But, why not, if you are doing very well and can afford it...
Singaporeans love to complain and complain on whatever there is to complain, this is because we truly love and enjoy making complaints. Public transport like the MRT is cheap and travelling in one is a breeze, no traffic lights to wait and no traffic jams at all, very speedy clean and efficient. The buses are no different with the responsible Authorities continuously trying to upgrade and better its present system. Our taxi fleet consists of more than 24,000 taxis from 6 operating concerns and I dare say our services and fares are reasonable and comparable with nothing much to gripe about.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Water, water everywhere........

Yesterday and today have been quite slow moving and it therefore makes me easily tired when nothing exciting happens except for the sudden bad flash floods and vehicles getting bogged down, here and there. Lucky for me I don't happen to be or near those disaster areas as I ride out the rainfalls in kopitiams, either eating or drinking coffee till the rains subside.
Talking of floods, it has been a long, long time since, when regular floodings occur during heavy downpours along many, many roads. I remember times when my friends and I during our school days, would wait and anxiously watch for cars to be stalled and stucked in flood waters and then offer our services to push their vehicles to safety for a bit of pocket money. It was part time work, a lot of fun and getting well paid for just pushing cars out of the flooded roads. When rain falls, the heavier the better, we become rich kids. Those were happy days for us school boys to make money until the Authorities began putting plugs and improving drainage to do away with future floodings. Still, all kinds of 'catastrophies' will befall us at any time, anywhere, without warning causing untold heartaches, tragedies, loss of properties including loss of lives when an 'act of God' occurs. With all our superior high tech creations and inventions to try to prevent or to fight these calamities, we must acknowledge and be humbled by what God can do.

Friday, November 20, 2009

about wakes and weddings

The difference between attending wakes and weddings is that you attend one without any invitation and the other you need to be invited to. During both these solemn functions, you get to be reunited with relatives and friends whom you may have lost touch with for quite a long time and its true we unashamedly hide our eagerness to meet up, and at the same time look forward to the dinner waiting for us.
The first type of get together always occur suddenly without any early notice and usually lasts for 3 or 5 days, whereas the other gives you early notice of its coming and only last one day culminating with a huge dinner party. Of course, when we want to make our presence felt during these functions, we need to also show respect to the families involved by way of giving certain monetary amount or gifts.
In the course of our daily lives, these important events create a kind of 'wake up' call for all of us, in that, we tend to take many things for granted, become selfish and only think about ourselves all the time. We need to find time to get together more often to share and enjoy fellowship instead of letting these two types of events to happen before we meet up. 
Many a times my passengers would confide in me their sadness of the steadily corroding family unity in our present day environment, and what is to become of our future generations....
In the meantime, life goes on... getting a bit hungry now, wonder if there is any sandwich in the fridge......

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The 3 C's

I have often had the pleasure of ferrying passengers who are easy going and possess conversational skills and thereby we enjoy the whole trip. We would chat and somehow talk as if we had been very old friends. If we were in the same age group, then there's even more enthusiasm and excitement in our talks as we can relate to past subjects known only to us. Sometimes when I engage talks with passengers in respect of the 5Cs' which most younger ones have, I never fail to tell them that there are also the famous 3C's that should be taken into account. If asked to explain, then I would tell them that these 3C's are for those more well-versed in the Hokkien dialect.
"Kia C", "Tan C" and "Chay C". I shall explain as thus, the 1st 'C', we say "Kia C" meaning "afraid to die", these group of people are those we see everyday doing all kinds of exercises, such as the popular 'jogging' stuff we witness everywhere, day in and day out, involving the elderly as well as the young, they are the ones who will always be very picky about what they eat, "too oily", too much "sugar or salt" or those with an array of health foods and pills they conscientiously consume each day, they are all afraid to die.
The 2nd 'C', we say "Tan C" which means "waiting to die", now these group belongs to those who are typically boring, without sense of adventure, no interest in anything, will never venture into any new ideas or vocations even knowing that they are more profitable or better than what they have now. But they will still prefer to remain what and where they are indefinitely and live a daily dull routine lifestyle. Don't you think they are just waiting for their 'time' to come'?
And last of all, the 3rd 'C' we say "Chay C" meaning "seeking to die" this particular group of people indulges, engages and gets involved in anything they like, whether its legal or not, dangerous or not or even if its very bad for their health, they could'nt be bothered. Don't you think they are reckless, could'nt care less bunch who knows what they do will get them into very "hot soup" and yet continue to pursue their undesirable destinies?
Well, thats all for now, time for my coffee break and puff, oops, 3rd C!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Alarming Masquerade..

One day, around 11pm, I picked up a pretty young Malay lady in her late twenties, dressed very sexy and kinky and carrying a traveling bag along Geylang Road just after Lorong 16. She told me to send her to Woodlands Check-point as she settled herself in the back seat of my cab. I acknowledged her request and started driving off. As I made the turn to travel by the CTE link road into the PIE, I heard sounds of 'shuffling' unmistakebly of clothing material, like when you rummage through your pile of shirts to look for something left in one of the pockets. I casually peeked through the rear view mirror and saw this lady taking out some clothing materials from her travelling bag which I thought is nothing unusual and so I just concentrated on my driving towards Woodlands. The journey was quite a distance and whilst driving past certain parts of the highway which seemed quieter, I could just sense that kind of feeling like some sort of movements was going on made by this young lady seated at the back, but I simply dismissed my thoughts and did not bother to peek behind a second time as I kept my eyes trained more importantly on the road ahead of me. 
All in all, about 20 minutes later we arrived at the Woodlands Check-point taxi stand, stopped my cab, pulled up my handbrakes and then looked behind me to tell the lady the metered fare and guess what I saw, I was so shocked, momentarily shakened to see a totally transformed Malay looking 'religious' lady in a different outfit, together with her 'tudung' displayed on her head. Yes, she had the same goodlooking face and was smiling when she handed me the fare which I took and thanked her with me staring at her with my stupified and bewildered look. After she alighted, I still had my eyes following her till she was out of sight, only then did I drove off. 
Wow, what a perfect transformation, what do you know, a hooker away from home and returning as a solemn, respectful looking 'religious' personality. Indeed, this could well be from a perfect movie script. As I write this post, I can't help but kept recalling the whole incident over and over again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

now you know what its like

Once in a while I also have to take a cab... to go for my medical check-ups at NUH. The usual fare from where I live to NUH is always around $12 during morning peak hours. On this particular Friday morning, I remembered the fare came up to $17.80, this was because of an unusual massive jam (no accidents, no roadworks and no vehicle breakdowns) which started near Dairy Farm Road, Upp. Bukit Timah Road and along Clementi Road and all the way to NUH. As a paying passenger, I experienced the agony of watching the meter number steadily rising as the taxi slowly crawled all the way to NUH. I guess its only normal to keep peering at the meter going up so fast whilst the taxi is in slow motion. Going to be late for the hospital appointment was yet another concern which made me feel uncomfortable in my seat as well as becoming a watch 'watcher' and imagine, feeling a bit sweaty in an air-conditioned vehicle? getting angry at yourself for 'dili-dallying' and taking things for granted which caused all these predicaments. Your frustrations do not just end there, you still need to tolerate the driver's grumblings and curses, (apart from your own) in the shared environment.
There were other types of incidents that occurred whilst being a paying passenger on board taxis but I seldom tell the taxi drivers that I am also one of them, simply because it is interesting and good to experience and learn of what and how a passenger would feel and respond and be entertained or vice versa. These situations ultimately made me more sensitive and understanding towards those who board my cab.........

Monday, November 16, 2009

tales from the past..

In the 60s' and 70s', young women in their teens or early twenties were exactly like 'cinderellas', and do you know why? Well , this is because all of them had to be home by midnight and going out after 12.00 am was immoral and unheard of. Those days women were not so outgoing and you hardly hear of girls drinking liquor or even smoking, not that they were prudes, but to be caught indulging in those activities would get you branded as 'flirts'.
They would always be drinking soft drinks and huddle in groups laughing and chatting softly among themselves when they attend house parties or organised big functions usually held at NTUC building at Shenton Way or F & N Hall (building already demolished) at River Valley Road, or even at St. Johns' Ambulance house at Beach Road to mention a few. There were no discos then, maybe a local band performing or even just playing music from the turntables, and to go dancing would mean that you would at least know how to dance the waltz, foxtrot, cha cha or even rock n roll. You need to know the steps to perform these dances, otherwise you would be seated somewhere, be a spectator or maybe like wallpaper as they were termed. If your grandfathers, grandmothers or even great grand fathers and great grand mothers are still around, with present day going ons, I think they would all just faint or maybe even drop dead. Nowadays, girlfriends even send their boyfriends home first and thereafter continue home alone by themselves, very common. I have been ferrying these girls going home on their own so frequently, not only that, I have been picking up young ladies going out alone by themselves from their homes after midnight to meet friends in the city, nightclubs, pubs or just to party anywhere and most of them unconcerned about whether they have to work the next day or not. Just imagine sending home very high and totally drunk young women who can hardly stand up or know what is going on around them. They look a wreck with their feminity exposed, this is so dangerous, what if you fall into unscrupulous hands and be taken advantaged of, I would dread to know of the consequences.......

Sunday, November 15, 2009

usually with first time visitors

The other day I picked up this Scottish couple from Changi Airport T2 and they were from Germany, first time visitors to Singapore. They were both in their fifties, eager, very excited and as soon as I help them load their 2 big luggages into my cab, they quickly settled down in the back seat, and straightaway a flurry of questions came forth from both of them simultaneously.
Firstly, they kept admiring the greeneries, cleanliness whilst exclaiming how nice and neat the trees are lined up on both sides of the road as we travelled along the ECP heading towards the city to Pan Pacific Hotel. They asked about the population and who's who, about what is this and what is that.
"Oh, its so beautiful, kind of hot and makes me sweaty but I love it" said the lady.
I was like a professional tourist guide, answering all their questions and telling them about all kinds of things, places of interests, shopping and food centres, its people, religions and what they don't know or what to expect. I have very often had the pleasure of welcoming our guests from overseas, especially first timers to Singapore and guided them with pride always. When we reached the hotel, they paid the fare, thanked me and showered praises like, "You speak very good English" and "You are so kind and helpful".. I thanked them, bade farewell, then drove off. This scenario and similar types of airport trips with passengers from overseas are always very satisfying and I enjoy them very much.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lively encounters

Everytime I fetch mothers with their young children I get to hear famous diciplining phrases like "Uncle is getting angry", "Uncle going to throw you out of the taxi", "Uncle going to scold you already" and even "Uncle going to beat you if you don't stop it"... "Stop it, stop it, look, Uncle is staring at you now". All these threats blurted out by the mothers at their children will, hopefully not, create a 'fear' phobia when they grow up and that might cause taxi drivers to lose future generation of taxi commuters.
One day, I picked up this lady passenger who had her mobile handphone in silent mode. Now, this was what happened... "Hello?, have you had your dinner yet?" she said and I answered "No,not yet, maybe in an hour's time thank you" Imagine how embarrassed I was when I turned around to acknowledge her that I found out she was actually on her handphone asking her boyfriend or husband the question! Next time I better make sure to speak when I am actually the one spoken to. And there was this guy who boarded my cab and sat beside me, looked at me from an angle and then suddenly slapped me on my left shoulder, "Hey, Albert ! Long time no see man! Since when you started driving taxi?" I was a bit shaken and said, "Bro. my name is not Albert, I think you got the wrong person."
"Ah, so sorry, so sorry, but you look like him, not twins hoh?"
"No, I don't have a twin brother" I started laughing... this was a case of positive mistaken identity and anyway, we continued chatting and laughing all the same throughout the journey.
Then I had another passenger who sat behind and throughout the trip he was talking and laughing to himself. I peered at him through the rear mirror and prayed he was not one who flew over the cuckoo's nest and luckily for me he turned out to be a decent guy and even left me a small tip when we reached his destination. It's unbelievable but it keeps my mind alert and looking for more as I drive on.....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tragedy of love gone sour..

How can a father kill his own son (5) and daughter (3)? Both so young and defenceless and both had to die so cruelly by their own father's hands. It was not the children's fault that their parents wanted a divorce, they were totally innocent and yet they had to suffer and die so wickedly. To get married, settle down and have children is all too easy. When two young people fall in love, everything between them is always yes and okay, very loving, always wanting to be together, petty quarrels and disagreements in all issues will always be resolved eventually, BUT, when they finally tie the knot and begin their marathon of life together, they then start to find out about each others' undesirable habits not known to each other or simply refuse to know or hear about them during their courtship, that's where Love is totally blind during that period of time, or should I say, it was actually only infatuation that got them stuck and bound together.
The understanding power between two persons is not easy. To forgive and forget is always sought but seldom realized, so when problems start to surface they find it difficult to cope and adjust or compromise between themselves, they shelf it for the time being, at the same time continue to harbour discontent, and allow anger to slowly build up within themselves until one fine day, the balloon must burst and all hell lets loose, that's when everything gets out of hand and war is declared. The once upon a time lovebirds became public enemy number one, and they then start fighting viciously for custody and property, sadly if one of them cannot take the pressure or traumatic turn of events, then tragedy occurs and the innocent ones suffer and even lives get wasted.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Half-hearted sportsman...

Picked up this young man from Changi Airport T2 with a sling bag and carrying a golf set. "Hello, where to?"
"Hi Uncle, please go to West Coast Road near Esso Petrol station"
"Okay. Wow, you must be back from overseas golf competition?"
"No lah, just to Bangkok to play golf for relaxation"
"You must love playing golf very much, and by the way, what would your handicap be?"
"No lah, no handicap, just started learning to play the game.."
"It must be quite boring hitting a small ball and walking at least 400 yards to search for the ball and hitting it again and then walk, search and..."
"You are quite right Uncle, after playing a while I'm now losing a bit of interest because of inconsistencies and the irregular moods of the weather. Just when you are eager and ready to play, heavy rain falls and you get wet and messy and got to walk back quite far to the clubhouse, I am getting fed up and thinking of giving up golf"
"Do you think its a boring and stupid game then?"
"I'm inclined to think so, and its not cheap you know. I think maybe I'll just quit."
Before I could reply, we reached his destination. As I drove away, I was thinking this young man must have chosen a wrong sport, he looks frustrated and from what I gathered he might really quit the game. Not everyone can be a Tiger Woods, and in any sports, you must first love it, enjoy it, be good and try to excel in it and most of all be very passionate to really succeed at all. This young man don't seem to have it in him, I don't blame him, most probably he is more afraid that lightning might strike just like it struck and recently killed a businessman whilst playing golf in Singapore.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Orchard Road Light Up!

With the light up of Orchard Road from Tanglin Mall to Cathay and other parts of the island, Singapore looks like a fairyland of coloured lights and with the ban lifted for neon lights once again, makes the island really glittering and alive. Shopping malls with their multi-hued colours screaming around its buildings together with huge video screens displaying technicoloured advertisements and movie trailers makes it all the more exciting and exhuberant. This is so different compared to a few years ago and now with the population ballooning to 5 million the whole scene has totally changed to one which is truly bustling with life, imagine what it will be like when the target reaches 6.5 million people. At present, every where already looks so congested with people as well as vehicles cramming alongside each other, it becomes worst especially during the weekends, so much so I'll try to shy away from driving around these parts, even knowing that long queues of commuters are waiting for us. Traffic jams are inevitable and it is certainly very tiring, crawling and weaving in and out, also time consuming. Come this Christmas eve, its going to be a truly fantastic and spectacular party time along the whole stretch of Orchard Road, I think I'll not drive at all, but go partying instead and soak in the Christmas spirit that will be spread all around us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

sensationalisms

Tragedies, crimes, con jobs, loan sharks, suicides, maid and child abuse, big grabs for inheritance between family members and so many others are like from scenes that we watch on TV and in the movies playing it out in real life right here in Singapore nearly every other day. Most recent, the death of two very young children at home in Ang Mo Kio together with the father falling down to his death from their flat for reasons yet unknown pending police investigations. Boyfriend stabbing girlfriend to death over infidelities or over-possessiveness and currently facing possibility of death sentence, and court case going on for an elderly woman trying to kill her husband by slowly putting poison in his food over a period of time... and what about the stand off between siblings in deciding where their mother should be buried. All these can indeed be made into movie blockbusters. The arrests and long term jail sentences, including caning, of many loan-shark runners caught for splashing paint and causing fire to debtors homes have all been sensational. These stories are the main conversational topics between me and my passengers which make each trip more lively with questions of whys, opinions and criticisms. We sometimes talk as if we are judges and how we should mete out punishments or just feel sad and feel sorry for the victims. I read the papers every morning and ask myself why these things happen before I go to bed....

Monday, November 9, 2009

newscaster, directory, consultant...

We taxi drivers are usually known for being "Mr. Knowalls". We can tell you what time shopping malls open or close, where you can get good food and what is not, the latest hot news, gossips and scandals, which specialist doctors can do for whatever ailments you've got, we can even give you unqualified medical prescriptions, which way the fastest and nearest route to where, offer free advice and consultations for your disputes with spouse, chidren or bosses or act like 'quack' psychiatrists and listen to your problems. But, the only questions which are impossible for us to answer is "Did I lock my door?". "Where did I leave my door keys?" "What time is my appointment?", how would I know. This is why a taxi drivers' vocation is so challenging when you meet with people from all walks of life everyday.
The other day when I was at the Far East Shopping Centre taxi stand queue, I picked up this young guy who wanted to go to Marriot Hotel. I told him that it is just one or two minutes walking distance from here. He said "Okay, get me there" and another time it was at Lucky Plaza taxi stand when this young lady wanted to go to Takashimaya, I told her its just across the road and she said "I am afraid to cross this road, please send me there thanks". I don't know whether these people are just plain lazy or filthy rich or maybe simply ignorant, but it goes to show what interesting things can happen in our occupation all the time......

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dreams...

We must always dream and hope for the best things to happen to us as we wish it. Most of us would want to be a millionaire or a celebrity, and why not, all we have to do first is to start dreaming and then keep hoping our dreams come true.
It's not impossible, just take a look at this Australian taxi driver, he bought a race horse, named it "Takeover Target" not an expensive thoroughbred, maybe less than AUD$2000, raced it and discovered that he has a champion racehorse. He is now a multi-millionaire, travelling around the globe with his champion earning fantastic stake monies for him. He was in Singapore recently with his race horse competing in Kranji Turf Club and winning lots of stake money. This is an example of what dreams and hope can do. Of course as we dream on, we still need to work to survive the present harshness in our everyday lives. Anything can happen at any time, for instance buying a Big Sweep or a Toto ticket and ending up a winner makes your dreams come true. It is not just dreaming and hoping for glamour or wealth, we must also remember to dream and pray for good health and well being for ourselves and our families for the rest of our lives too. I think I better start dreaming first about purchasing a race horse and hope to have a champion, but in the meantime, I better not stop driving..........

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rain, rain go away...

To start the day rushing into your cab with heavy rain pouring down on you is really dreadful. The first thing you know is that there will be lesser people on the roads flagging your cab. Secondly, you need to go to the nearest taxi stand and start to queue, usually at a shopping centre, mall or plaza for passengers. Third and most nasty is at the end of the day, when you have an extra load of work cleaning the inside of the cab, sometimes muddy carpets and to thoroughly dry and air the seats before you handover to your relief driver. A lot of cabbies are afraid to drive on rainy days because it is not so safe even if you are extra careful. Road conditions, visibility, heavy jams are the main causes. And if we are unlucky to meet up with even minor accidents, we get drenched, unable to continue working due to damages or even getting hurt and this inevitably cause loss of earnings for us for at least a few days. Worst of all, drivers become edgy, impatient and tempers flare at the slightest argument as to who is right or who is wrong when an accident occurs. It becomes a very bad day for all concerned. Even the commuters, waiting anxiously for taxis everywhere get very frustrated and angry and when they finally get one, we will get some share of their curses. Therefore it is better to wait a while, maybe hangout at a coffee shop, have a hot cup of coffee and watch the rain subside before we start doing business again......

Friday, November 6, 2009

kind and considerate.....

Last night at Clarke Quay taxi stand, at about 10pm, I picked up a chinese young man who wanted to go to Woodlands St.83. After travelling about 5 minutes, this young man asked, "Uncle, do you have any plastic bag, I think I'm going to puke".
"Yes, I have, just hang on". I immediately stopped my cab along Paterson Road, and took out a plastic bag from below my seat and quickly gave it to him. He took it and said, "Thanks very much, you can start driving again. Don't worry, I may be able to hold till I reach home. I need this bag just in case I can't control."
"Okay, thanks, I'll try to go a bit faster for you".
Phew! That was a big relief. At least this passenger, although a bit high, was considerate and kind enough to tell me his predicament in order not to vomit in my cab before its too late. In slightly less than 20 minutes, I was able to reach his destination. He paid the fare and thanked me once again for the plastic bag.
"Thank you too, and will you be alright?" He nodded and waved a 'thumbs up' sign and slowly walked to his block. I stayed and watched him till he went into the lift before I moved off.
Vomitting inside the cab can be a huge disaster. First, after washing the inside of the cab thoroughly with a lot of soap at the carwash, we need to open all 4 doors, wind down all the windows, dry every part of the vehicle and let it have fresh air and wait for quite sometime to clear the pungent smell of vomit which can still linger on after everything is done. It is impossible to carry on and ferry passengers as the smell is awful and intolerable. Normally we will stop working and head home. That is why we have no choice but to request for a small amount of compensation from our passengers to help us for loss of income and extra work done, this usually amounts to about $50. It is okay if your passengers can understand but what if they disagree or worst still not even sober. Well, this becomes a problem with a big headache.......

Thursday, November 5, 2009

the 4th bad memory of being cheated...

It was on a different day with the fourth group of cheats, this time they consist of three Indian school boys, I think from Sec. 3 maybe around 16 years of age whom I picked up at Pioneer North St. opposite City Harvest Church. They wanted to go to Lower Delta Road and requested me to travel by the AYE. When I finally reached the Link road to go into Lower Delta Road, one of the boys said, "Uncle, please go straight and do a U-Turn at the traffic junction and drop us by the roadside before the entrance to the carpark", which I duly complied. "Here can already, thank you".
The same thing happened, just like the previous group, two of them got out first and slowly walked away whilst the third, took out his wallet, flipped it open and started to look for his money. Acting cool and calm, he said, "Sorry uncle, wait a minute", I was about to turn to look at him when all of a sudden, ZOOM! he was out in a flash and joined his other two friends in a record sprint and disappeared into thin air. This time, already resigned to being cheated once again, I came down, shut the opened door and just drove off silently, cursing and swearing at the three cheats.
"Carry on, there's nothing you can do about it, the fare is only $14/-" I mumbled and consoled myself, then sped off to hunt for a nearby coffee shop for 'kopi' and get D-Stressed. What's going on with these young people? Don't they feel any shame at all? Are their parents and teachers not doing their part in teaching them about honesty? and many more questions asked as I slowly drank my coffee.....

the 3rd bad memory of being cheated...

Final term school holidays are starting soon and this time around, I will be extra wary of school children passengers. Why? Well, twice during the past school holidays, I was cheated by two different groups of 13 or 14 year old school kids. (Their ages are revealed through their chit chats). The 1st group, all chinese, comprised of 3 boys and a girl I picked up at the Zion Road side of Great World City taxi stand. They wanted to go to Pasir Ris near Downtown East. It was about 6.30pm and slowly getting dark. The school girl sat beside me while the three boys sat in the back seat. Along most of the way, they were chatting mostly in singlish about their parents, teachers and classmates, gigling and laughing. Just before reaching Downtown East, the girl requested me to drop her first after the traffic junction by the left side of the road which I did and the boys needed to go further up near White Sands.
One of the boys said, "Uncle, go to St.51" and when we arrived he directed me to go into the 2nd carpark, turn here and there, do a U-turn and stop. As soon as I stopped and pull up my handbrakes, two of them got down and started walking off whilst the third one sitting near the opened door, pretended to dig into his pocket seriously for his wallet with one leg already getting out. Suddenly jumped out and ran together with the other two in front and the three of them simply disappeared out of sight before I can even shout "Hey!"
The metered fare showed more than $20/- I was flabbergasted. "Again!!" X#F@xss!! I knew it would just be a waste of time hunting for them, felt like an idiot for being cheated the 3rd time, and of all people, innocent looking young school children.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Striking" long time ago...

Nowadays, sporting activities in Singapore with the younger generation benefitting a whole lot more, getting more international exposures, wider news coverage worldwide, more sponsors, more new high-tech venues and fantastic monetary rewards. All these including The Singapore Sports School nurturing yet more new talents, has truly given a huge boost to our future sporting arena.
I remembered in those days, in my early twenties, I was very keen in bowling, even had my own bowling team, played in different league tournaments and spent continuous days and nights in different bowling alleys. I was good then, but hardly exposed to national tournaments let alone competing in the international arena where our Remy won high accolades and also very well rewarded and recognised for his efforts not too long ago. During my time, bowling became a kind of part time job where you can earn an extra bit of pocket money whilst competing with all levels of bowlers from anywhere. It was great fun and I enjoyed every bit of it, in fact, I was then unemployed but with my bowling skills, was earning an "Executive" salary every month for almost two years, including buying myself a brand new Toyota Celica 1600 cc car. When I first became a businessman, I continued to bowl occasionally whilst doing my own businesses for a while but due to work constraints and business pressures, I eventually stopped bowling altogether. I have not bowled for more than fifteen years now, but believe you me, I think I can still throw a few mean Strikes..........

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nearly conned...

One night, many, many years ago, I was with my brother-in-law Philip, two of my uncles, Bobby and Anthony. We were playing mahjong in my house at Thomson Road, when all of a sudden, there was this young man, aged maybe 16 or 17 years old, dressed rather untidily, I remembered with his short sleeves shirt not tucked in and also barefooted. He approached us, looking rather disorientated and in a sweat.
He needed to use the telephone very urgently to call his sister and we allowed him to do so. We also stopped playing at the same time and was listening intently to his conversation. He sounded panicky, agitated and looks like crying and shivering also, spoke shakily, "Hello sis, mother met with an accident, injured badly and is now in General Hospital emergency unit! Huh? you cannot rush to hospital now? I am in a very dificult situation and right now I don't even have a single cent on me, how to take taxi and rush there? Mother is alone and the hospital needs us to go and sign papers before they can do any surgery immediately otherwise she may die. I was told she is suffering and is in a critical shape. I was working and rush quite far to borrow this phone to call you because the company's phone is out of order. I told you I have no money with me right now!"
He started crying, "What to do now? How?". He hung up the phone and sat down on the floor as if in agony. We felt very anxious and sad after listening to his plight and was going to give him some money to help out, when another uncle of mine who was sitting quietly at a corner reading a magazine, stood up, caught the youngster by his shirt collar, and spoke very sternly to him. "Don't think I don't know what you're trying to do! I have been dealing with you guys for such a long time, trying to get sympathy with sad stories, and con people of their money. Tell me the truth now and I will give you a chance and let you go or I will bring you straight to the police station".
The boy suddenly shakened, immediately cowered, knelt down and pleaded for leniency and kept saying "Sorry, sorry, sorry". My uncle said, "Don't you ever let me catch you doing this again or you will be properly punished, understand?" He nodded his head repeatedly, "Sorry, sorry, dare not already" and quickly sprinted out of sight.
All of us were shocked especially with the acting and realism that this young man displayed, and to this day, this episode of real life con-in-action will never be forgotton. Incidentally, this uncle, my mother's younger brother, happened to be Inspector Hong of the Singapore Police Force. Cons and scams are still very active in Singapore, even with the local media at present still highlighting many cases and giving advice and cautions, we sometimes forget and continue to be conned! Nowadays, we have more and more foreigners getting into the act, preying and testing our gullibilities.......

Sunday, November 1, 2009

this is true...

This will come as a surprise to you. Do you know that if you were in Toronto Canada, and if you happen to take a taxi, that Indian taxi driver can easily be a qualified doctor/surgeon/dentist/engineer, who emigrated to Canada, but was from India or for that matter from any country in the world, yes, even from Singapore. 
This is because, the Canadian authorities DO NOT recognise any foreign degrees (other than Phd) earned by anyone abroad and he/she has to be re-trained to perform his/her profession in Canada.
This leads us to why so many qualified people ended up as cabbies/pizza deliverers or something else just to make a living there. I was told from a very reliable source that a woman selling insurance in Toronto was formerly a Professor of Dentistry in Singapore University before she emigrated to Toronto. She was only allowed to work as a dental assistant, which she turned down. Then, there was this friend's family doctor who had his own medical practice in Singapore and with degrees from Singapore and England, but had to return to medical school for 4 years in Vancouver before being allowed to practice medicine again. There are doctors from Australia who likewise had to be retrained when they go there. AND yet, Canada is severely short of qualified doctors. Many of these overseas-trained doctors/surgeons who emigrated, are cabbies or pizza men or something else in Toronto. These too, include overseas-trained engineers. Sometimes we learn that to ignore the facts does not change the facts.