Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Taxi Talk

(Visual: Driver, big bear of a man in his late 50s. Close-cropped white hair. Expansive smile.)

Me: “Wow. There is so much traffic today.”
Driver: “It’s all from British intelligence. It’s their way of disrupting our lives.” (jokes)
K: ”It’s a good thing my wife is American.”
Driver: “We wish the CIA was here tying up traffic. Long live the CIA! When are they getting here?”

Perhaps he was secretly referring to the goldmine of information provided by the CIA itself: [CIA Gave Iran Bomb Plans, Book Says]


(Visual: Driver small bear of a man, young: early to mid 20s; close-cropped dark hair, goatee.)

Driver: “Islam is not our religion. We should all be Zoroastrians. That’s really ours. We pray in Arabic! What language do you pray in? I am sure it is not Arabic. Can you imagine the imposition of this religion on our culture?

Actually, I can. That’s the way the world works. But I keep my mouth shut, and he continues:

“How would you feel if your husband took another wife? I’ll tell you that I would never approve of my wife taking another husband! Why should she be happy if I took another wife?”


(Visual: Driver, small, thin, older: maybe early 60s; white knit cap on his head typical of village men, grey wool suit coat)

Driver: “Our country has really fallen apart. We have no freedom, no nothing anymore.”

Me: “I always wonder what people mean when they say ‘freedom’?”

Driver: “We were freer during the time of the Shah. We were going to be more free. At least we could drink and women could wear whatever they wanted. Now we can’t even do that. Now women wear almost nothing because they are forced to wear hijab. Sometimes I think it would be better for women to walk around naked than to wear what they wear now. There is too much pressure. All of our lives are lived under pressure.”


Yogesh Chabria said...

I feel Iran's taxis are one of the best ways to know what Iranians are thinking. Since the taxi drivers will almost always end up talking to you, and Tehran has the ‘share-a-cab” system so it’s a nice way to meet new people also.
The fun part is that, even regular people use their car's as taxis, so if you are going where they are going, they will pick you up and charge you the nominal taxi fare.
Gotta...catch a taxi soon!

Mohd said...

I'm of the same opinion as the last driver. Iran was a freer country. We could drink and go to cabarets and women didn't have to cover half of their heads and all of their bodies. We also had a Savak. Those days you couldn’t dare having these conversations even in a taxi and with a bunch of strangers. Not even with your best friends. But we were free…

Marie said...

In 1980, many Iranians asked me (hopefully, as if I might know the answer!), "Where's the CIA?" "When are they sending the marines in?"

ET said...

Taxis in Iran are interesting, cheap, & sometimes fun. Drivers will tell you themselves that 2/3 of the drivers are intelligence officers. I am absolutely certain that this is at least 1/3 true.

A friend believes that the taxis are regime's way of taking informal public opinion polls. This may explain why the topics are so often similar from taxi to taxi.

Gayyash said...

just came across your blog and enjoyed the taxi stories. i recently posted about taxis, too, but they're cairo taxis. i think i'll borrow your dialogue format, it's much neater than mine. so thank you. and do excuse the inadvertent self-promotion.