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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell 2009 and Welcome 2010 !!!

At last my computer is once again working after breaking down last Sunday. It was finally repaired by a very good friend of mine only from yesterday evening till about 3.30am this morning. There are still a few minor things to be adjusted and added into my computer and it will be as good as new says the "doctor", only thing left for me to do is to go get a new printer as the present one is giving me problems.
The past few days were rather slow and quiet, but tonight, everything changes for it is the last night 0f year 2009, the magical "Count Down" is going to be full of excitement, loud and very noisy with huge crowds waiting for the stroke of midnight to welcome Year 2010 together with colourful and fantastic fireworks display. Its going to be very exciting with the nostalgic tune of "Auld Lang Syne" once again sung and heard everywhere in Singapore and throughout the whole world as we bid goodbye to Year 2009 and usher in the new Year 2010. I must say it has been a very speedy ten years passed from year 2000 filled with fierce and violent "Turbulences" such as the onslaught of the Flu viruses, the infamous Tsunamis, the Great Floods, the huge Financial Crunches, the terror of the Terrorists with their Human Bombs that seemed so endless, the Global Recession, the Climate changes, and so many others that I rather not be reminded. We are also witnessing the emergence or 'awakening' of China to becoming an additional Great World Superpower, and many other nations aggressively vying to attain Nuclear Power dominations together with threatening intentions. What will our future be like in the years to come, well, I think its too scary to think just now, so for the present time being, I wish to heartily wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year !!! CHEERS !!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

peaceful and yet very busy Christmas time......

This Christmas was not what I had expected although I have been kept pretty busy with many passengers that I ferried around. There was not even one memorable incident for me to recall during the past two nights except getting quite tired through the continuous driving till late. I noticed that the huge crowds of revellers that gathered in town were very much more than those in the past few years, I guess the recent increase in the population made the difference. Anyway, I am still feeling quite tired and I think I will go slow today and maybe stop work earlier and get plenty of rest. The New Year celebrations is around the corner and I shall be looking forward to yet another very busy few days ahead.

Friday, December 25, 2009

its a good Christmas eve.........

At 5.00pm, it was the start of a very fruitful and non-stop workday. The first passenger I picked up was this pretty young lady from United Square taxi stand. She was first in the long queue and had been waiting for about 20 minutes. She was going home to Yishun street 11, and along the way, we had a pleasant conversation. She told me she was going to have dinner with her family first and later in the evening at about 10pm, she would be celebrating Christmas with about ten of her former secondary schoolmates including a few childhood friends at St. James Power Station where they had already booked a table in one of the clubs where Cantonese and Hokkien songs are part of the music being played there. She said after finishing her secondary education eight or nine years ago, she and her friends have been keeping in close touch with each other and have partied together on festive occasions regularly and tonight is going to be another big bash. Her metered fare came to $18.30 and fares more or less around this amount seemed to be the order of the day as I worked on.
The beauty of this Christmas eve workday for me is that I did not at any time encountered traffic jams at all. It was smooth travelling and there were eager and ready passengers everywhere throughout my working time. I only took two breaks, half an hour each, and the rest of the time was on the road till I called it a day at 3.25am. My overall gross takings amounted to $247.00 for about nine and a half hours of work which was very good. I could have continued for another two more hours but my legs are feeling very tired right now.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Its Christmas again! Jingle bells, jingle bells......

It is going to be a very hectic evening for me, its Christmas eve! People from all walks of life will be celebrating and partying from night till dawn, and I expect the city streets to be jampacked especially throughout the long stretch of Orchard Road where the road will be closed and taxis will be mostly occupied outside of these areas and there will be very long queues of passengers everywhere waiting for cabs.
Every year during the Christmas season, taxi drivers are all out in full swing and wishing "Merry Christmas!" to all our passengers. This is also the time when we start collecting our year end bonuses. Throughout my years of driving a taxi, earnings during this period can spiral up to twice or even three times what we normally earn on ordinary days. I will be driving till the wee hours of the morning, maybe stopping work around 6.30am then hand over the cab to my relief driver for his turn to do the rounds. As expected I know its going to be a very tiring day for me from 5.00pm onwards and I will definitely need to have enough rest to last the long weekend ahead. There will be plenty of revelry, very noisy and loud singing passengers like in past years and its going to be another very exciting evening, it gets more intense each time. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

business today was very good.......

It was a very good day for me as I had a continuous flow of passengers who paid fares the lowest being $11.50 and the highest at $26.50 so at the end of the day, I managed a collection high of $170/- and after deducting $43/- for rental and $18.70 for diesel, I had a nett take home pay of $108.30 which I consider an excellent earning for one day, hopefully I can score a double tomorrow. Throughout my working hours, nothing eventful happened only the usual "Hello" and "Thank You" and almost all trips were away from the city areas which was a plus, including not getting caught in any traffic jams. At around 9.00pm, I took a very short break at Drive 6 food centre where I had only a bowl of "laksa" and a "kopi-oh" which took only about 20 minutes and I was on the road again.
On all trips, three passengers slept throughout their journey, three were chatting softly on their mobiles all the way and the rest just sat quietly either together with their partners or just by themselves, I drove steadily and at the same time took note of the going ons to keep myself from getting bored, these sort of situations are very rare, but most welcomed although I would have preferred a bit of mouth action off and on which helps keep my mind occupied and alert.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

about charitable donations to ...........

At last, my computer is working normally again. Last night, whilst ferrying my caucasian passenger whom I picked up near People's Park Complex going to Royal Hotel at Newton Road, we chatted casually about giving donations to charity. I told him about an anonymous donor in Singapore who would deposit into the charity box of a temple, a $1,000/= note, and this went on for many weeks, of course it was much welcomed without any questions asked. My passenger then told me that the Salvation Army in Toronto sent out many of its volunteers to deposit charity boxes outside the entrances of malls this Christmas. There, the usual coins and notes are dropped into "The Kettle" as the box is known, but yesterday, when the Salvation Army counted their collections, there was this small envelope in one of the boxes that contained a real diamond wedding ring. They concluded that it must have come from a "Full Heart" or from a widower with a "Broken Heart" and of course, it was welcomed without any questions asked............."MERRY CHRISTMAS" to all you blog followers!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Computer Breakdown...

Apologies folks as I get my computer fixed. Meantime, I borrowed some time on my friend's computer to type this. Will post again soon. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Performed "angioplasty" in the kitchen......

Picked up this American expat and on the way to his hotel, The Ritz Carlton, he was saying that most people in his country are handy-men. He related that one day, in the kitchen with his wife, she noticed gargling sounds, bubbles and liquid was stucked and so he performed a simple angioplasty. "You mean, you are a surgeon, and you performed angioplasty on your wife, in the kitchen?" I asked.
"Oh, no, no, no," he explained, "My wife noticed that the water in the kitchen sink had refused to go down the drainage opening... obviously there was a blockage in the drainage system and so I performed something similar to angioplasty, clearing the blockage was very similar to angioplasty, you know what I mean, simply pushing down an auger and the clogged pipe (blocked artery) was then free of grease (cholesterol plague) which finally allowed water (blood) to flow freely in the system, got it?"
I laughed and said, "Interesting, comparing our blood arteries to our house drainage pipes!! For a moment I thought ..."
"Yeah, yeah, I knew it!" he chuckled.
This guy then recommended using a cup of bio-degradable degreaser monthly for my sink, its just like drinking warm Chinese tea after dinner to act as a degreaser for all the fatty foods that we eat.
"Hmmm, sounds sensible!!! Thank you." I said, as we arrived at the hotel. He paid the fare plus a little bit extra and said, "Goodnight, drive carefully."
I replied "I will, thank you and goodnight."
As I drove off, I thought he was chatty, interesting and a witty American, nice guy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

satisfaction..........

Everyday I meet up with total strangers in my cab, we wish and greet each other, say countless thank you's and goodbyes, make short conversations, sometimes even talk and joke as if we were old friends, sometimes we even argue over disagreements, show a bit of anger, maybe get involved in mild quarrels over trifle matters such as, which is a better route to take or travelling speed too fast, too slow, or disputes over fare charges, but generally, we experience normal pleasant encounters with our passengers. The most interesting part and rewarding aspect of a taxi driver is, being able to help in assisting one to locate their destination which happens quite often or recovering and returning their properties left in our taxis. At times, we also try to confide and console, as well as listen to whatever problems and woes that our passengers may have. There are those who are happy and grateful to us for helping out and some even express their gratitudes by offering us rewards or giving us good tips. Indeed, we get a lot of 'job satisfaction' in our profession.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

very happy and grateful to see lost property again....

The past weekend was quite dull and uneventful except for a handphone which I found wedged between my taxi's rear seat and backrest whilst cleaning my cab after calling it a day. It was an old model Nokia handphone left behind by one of my passengers, and whilst looking at the phone, it suddenly rang the old common house telephone ringing tone. I answered it and an excited voice was rambling straightaway about having lost his mobile. He begged me to return the phone and promised me a good reward, all these said before I can even ask him to identify the colour or model or call the number one more time to confirm that it was his property. I told him that he has only to pay me the cab fare when I see him, after I finished washing and cleaning my cab. This passenger happened to be an elderly man, very polite and thankful and happy to see his phone again. He told me that so many precious contacts would have been lost and stored personal important data lost forever if not found. He tried to push a $50/- note into my hands but I refused to accept. He was very persistent, I think more grateful is the word and insisted that I took the money, I eventually accepted $10/- since my fare meter showed $9.20 and that ended a rather quiet but continuous work routine without much break, many traffic jams and I was truly worn out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

interesting 'signs' on the road.........

During a visit from a friend of mine from Canada, he did mention that our local traffic lacks interesting and funny signs advertising their business, unlike those in Canada where one truck has the sign that says, "Our business is BLOOMING.....(Blooming Flowers Supplier)". Another has on its sides that says, "G.O.D.".........(Gordon's Overnite Delivery), which he noticed along the interstate highways in New York state. Another truck that says, "We deliver on time, it's not a FLUKE !!!".......(Fluke Transport Co.), and finally, another that says, "We love your stinky biz.".......(Thomas Bros. Sewers specialists), and so many, many more lively ones to keep your spirits up and laughing as you travel to work everyday.
How true, in fact, with the constant slow moving traffic and jams that we encounter everyday on our roads and highways, it would be a nice distraction away from our daily stress and frustrations on the road. My friend also told me that many motorists drive their cars with personalised vanity licensed plates in his country, such as, "I EARN" (the husband's car), "I SPEND" (the wife's car), and a list of other interesting name plates like, "MBA PHD", "OK LAH", "TAXI MUM", "I LUV U", "JOHN LEE" and "MARY LOU", he added that these names are restricted to 8 letters or digits and must not be derogatory in nature. I bet most Singaporeans would love to purchase such personalised licence plates for their autos and our govt would also get to make tons of money.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

unsavoury under-cover activities......

There are different types of taxi drivers that cruise around everyday in their cabs, but they do not or will not pick up passengers at all. Many commuters are frustrated by their "On Call" or "Busy" signs displayed each time they try to hail a cab. This usually happens during the "Peak" hours between 5pm and 8pm and after that, the "going home" time between 9.30pm and 10.30pm. Why?
You see, there are a number of taxi drivers who make use of their cabs for personal reasons. They use it full time to go around collecting debts, as in "Loan Sharking" activities, which recently made the headlines in our local media, they use it for doing their illegal book-making business which is thriving with 4 days of horse racing every week, they use it for going around everywhere to collect their "Punters" weekly bets on illegal Toto and 4D lotteries covering nearly everyday of the week, and they use it for ferrying only privately arranged "Special" passengers, those who are involved in vice and others, such as hostesses, mostly illegal ones to different night spots all over the island.
Taxi operators are in the dark as to what their drivers are doing so long as daily rentals are paid promptly. They are not so concerned and our local authorities know of such activities going on but it is very difficult for them to apprehend these wayward drivers due to lack of vital information other than catching them red handed in the act. I get to learn from, at the same time, listen to a lot of "Whats happening" during my coffee breaks and daily meals at coffee shops and food centres where most taxi drivers frequent because of free and easy parking facilities and nearby conveniences. There are still many other taxi drivers who make use of their rented taxis for different private purposes, all these errant drivers fortunately belong to a small minority.
No, I don't type my blogs with a lap top in my cab, only on my desk top in the comfort of my home together with my "Ownself Made" cups of coffee.........

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"recession" in Singapore??....

Singapore, I think, is about the only country in the world where you can witness its citizens queueing overnight to buy an apartment which costs more than a million dollars as soon as an opening date is announced for the sale of a new block of apartments or the opening sale of a new condominium block of flats. People will bring along their umbrellas, blankets, stools together with snacks and titbits, sleeping, resting, chit-chatting, reading newspapers or magazines whilst lining up in an orderly queue awaiting the doors of the sales office to open inorder to secure their purchase of a choice apartment, this is often done on a first come first serve basis. There again, if you were to talk about a recession happening in Singapore, I doubt there is, as the pace and life goes on uninterrupted with shoppers doing their favourite chores and the hordes of people still crowding outside popular eateries, food centres and restaurants everyday as usual. During the much talk about 'recession' period, I have observed that life goes on very normally and I don't hear of many people talking of failures in their business ventures nor about many people suffering or even about news of suicides due to financial distress, there is no such scenes in Singapore. I believe you agree with me on this too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the difference between weekdays and weekends....

Picked up this guy along Newton Road outside Goldhill Plaza. His destination is Yishun Street 81 and he seem a little bit high, maybe had too much to drink. It was about 10.45pm and he was in high spirits and chatty. He told me why pubs and lounges with hostesses do very good business during week-days but not so good during weekends. This is why, he said,
"We guys, most of us are usually family men and you know, we need to spend time with the family during weekends, go to country clubs, our children go swimming or bowling, wives pull jackpot machines or chit chat with other members' wives and the men maybe do a bit of golfing or have some drinks at the club and in the evenings bring the family for dinner at eating houses, food centres or restaurants and therefore we are tied up and cannot escape from the family, practically the whole day have to be with them, so how to go spend time and enjoy ourselves in pubs and lounges? But come weekdays, thats when the children have to be at home doing their school work and most wives supervising them, and for us, yes man, our turn, we need to take a break from our daily busy work routine and relax, and that's where we go to hang out and have fun. See, thats why clubs, pubs and lounges continuously do good business, because of us married men. Unmarried men and women would prefer to spend their time together, locked in a private world of their own, why go spend money in those places. Am I right?"
"Very true, very true! And how often and how much money do you normally spend in these places?" I asked. He replied "Oh, sometimes two or three times a week, maybe spend around two to three hundred dollars each time, okay lah, I work hard, I earn good money, no problem man. Uncle, Uncle just drop me at the bus stop in front will do, thanks."
He paid me $15/- "Keep the change, Good night." Before I can even say thank you and goodnight, he already disappeared from behind the bus stop. Well, what do you know, he must have had a good time and enjoyed himself thoroughly.
Its about 11.15pm now, and I think I am also going to have a good time with a puff and a cup of coffee at the local 24 hour coffee "Club" at Chong Pang...........

Sunday, December 6, 2009

who's right, who's wrong..........

Imagine leaving your only child, 15 years of age, who is down with H1N1 to fend for herself, I would definitely not! The parents should have gone for H1N1 innoculation in the first place if they are fearful of being infected by their daughter and stay by her, instead of, I would call it 'abandoning' and running away from their responsibilities. It is like watching your loved one drowning right in front of your eyes and you just watch because you're afraid you might drown too if you try to rescue, unless of course if you are very old and sick or too weak to even try to help, then it's a different story. I feel sad to even think that parents can do such when their child needs them most.
Then again, I come across this common everyday fickle quarrel over small change, in this case over two 5 cent coins at El Ameen Eating House opposite Beauty World, there is totally no give or take attitudes and not even trying to understand or be considerate instead of being arrogant and showing off by paying with a piece of thousand dollar note for a $1.20 packet of tea "Teh Tarik".
In my line of work, I have also been involved, occasionally with small change difficulties. Such as being paid with a $100 piece of note for a small fare of $4 and once $3.20. Passengers have to try to understand that we, taxi drivers are not money-changers and we dare not hold too much cash for security reasons. Therefore, we would most appreciate it if passengers can prepare or be ready with small change for short trips, of course we try to accomodate as much as possible.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

state of affairs of Churches and Churchgoers......

Picked up a Canadian gentleman from Hyatt Hotel who wanted to go to Costa Rhu (Tanjong Rhu) at about 11pm. Along the way, he told me that he noticed great numbers of churchgoers, young and old, attending churches here, unlike in Canada where only senior citizens and maybe a handful of grandchildren attend churches. Nowadays, many Canadians are just not attending churches there. Most Anglican church members are against their church giving blessings to 'gay' marriages which is legal in Canada and this has caused breaking up from 'mother' church into starting their own new Anglican Church of Canada. 
He told me that there are about 300,000 Anglicans presently in Canada but due to dwindling membership, he thinks in about 30 years, the Anglican Church will become obsolete. He said, as it is, many churches have gone bankrupt or had to be disbanded as attendances keep falling. The Catholic Church has its share of problems with child molestations and child pornography and is losing many church members. Its Church has paid millions in cover-ups, denials and settlements and, imagine, only last month a Roman Catholic Bishop was arrested for illegal possession of child pornographic materials, this Bishop travels frequently to Vietnam and Thailand in search of children, how sick can he be. 
Many churches have gone bankrupt because it cannot keep going without enough churchgoers and some had to be sold off to become restaurants, hardware stores or even converted into nightclubs with strippers performing at the altar.
"Good Lord!" he exclaimed, and continued, "Sad, very sad" he said, the state of affairs of churches in Canada with its dwindling and continuous loss of followers have caused great concern in the country. He said he has been here for almost two months now and will be going home next weekend, he added that Singapore churchgoers are very staunch, active, vibrant, and most times the churches here are packed and crowded unlike back home in his country. 
All the way to Costa Rhu, I just listened quietly and when we reached his destination, he paid the metered fare and said "Thank you for listening to my talk, take care and God bless" I thanked him at the same time as we bade farewell....
Phew!!.....that was indeed a long "talk" and now, its time for my favourite "Teh Tarik" at Geylang, Lorong one......

Friday, December 4, 2009

slow night and cheap meals......

It was an extremely slow night for me yesterday but I still managed to cover my rental and made a little bit, so I spent extra longer time enjoying my 'lunch' 8.30pm and also my 'dinner' at 1.30am. For 'lunch' I had this very special cheap chicken rice meal which costs $2/- only at the Bendemeer Road market, maybe promotion going on indefinitely and it was not bad at all and there was also a small queue at the stall. As for 'dinner', I was having wanton mee, very cheap also, only $2/- at Henderson Road popular coffee shop, well known for its porridge and assortment of dishes. The wanton mee is from the same stall as the popular 24-hour duck and char siew/siow bak stall. This corner coffee shop is especially crowded with taxi drivers at all times and has been there for many years already, you cannot miss it as you drive along Henderson Road.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

amazing stories.........

Last Friday night, I picked up two women passengers at Harbour Front taxi stand and they both wanted to go to Ang Moh Kio Avenues 8 and 10. Along the way, I could not help but listened to their conversation which was rather interesting. One woman was telling the other that she lived together with her younger sister and brother in their flat in Ang Mo Kio and they employed a Phillipina maid to do their housework as all of them were working. In the meantime, they also employed another Phillipina maid to look after their mother and an aunty, both in their senior years, living in another flat nearby. Late one night, she was surprised and shocked when she received a call from the police informing her about the arrests of both her Phillipina maids, who upon investigations gave them details of the whereabouts of their employers. Apparently the two maids were able to leave their flats unnoticed whilst they were all asleep during the night and were caught moonlighting as prostitutes at Orchard Towers. Both maids were of course immediately sacked and until this day she said she still cannot believe that it happened. After sending my passengers home, I continued cruising around in that area and at the same time feeling rather amused everytime I recall what I had heard, simply amazing what stories we can hear whilst we work.........