The Taxi Driver as Face of a City : My KL Experience (part two)
I remember in no particular order:
-a lingering hug which, when translated into words, would mean “I’m happy I’ve met you”;
-man-made lake, in equal parts pretentious and grand;
-four pairs of feet trying to outrun time;
-a grey and black hijab in front of the steering wheel.
The last one is something that when remembered, floods my thoughts with positivity and inspiration.
Our driver’s engaging personality erased whatever disappointment I had with Snow Walk. She talked about her family; the tourists she has driven for – including the jokes and greetings in various language she picked up from them; and most importantly, she talked about Kuala Lumpur – the culture, politics, and its people. Her extensive knowledge and insight on the place she calls home for 19 years (she’s originally from the northern part of the country) was impressive.
The following day, we asked her to take us to Putrajaya – the federal administrative center of Malaysia. Just like the day before, she served as a taxi driver and tour guide rolled into one (note that we hired her as a driver only). She later explained that as a taxi driver, she feels it is her responsibility to offer all her passengers a positive memory of Malaysia. This made me wish for the same taxi drivers in Manila – one who doesn’t take the heavy traffic against you (in words: “Boss,plus 100 nalang po kayo ha. Ang traffic eh!”) ; or one who has not developed a habit of greeting his passengers with a line full of positivity and politeness: “pa-garahe na kasi ako eh kaya dito lang ako umiikot as Makati”.
We arrived early at Putrajaya. She helped us choose what to have for breakfast – “something a typical Malaysian would eat”, she said. She took our pictures and waited for us while we rode a boat in the man-made lake.
I was awestruck by the buildings and bridges of Putrajaya. For a moment, I felt sorry for my city (but one I’ll continue to love, no matter what).
Later that day, Siti also drove us to the airport. While we were saying our goodbyes, she gave Joie a lingering hug and wished each one of us a safe plane ride home.
We were probably still ‘on a high’ such that we ate slowly at a fast food restaurant in the airport completely ignoring our departure time.
We sent her this! We felt that she was, in many ways like the iconic Philippine Jeepney – innovative (in terms of service) and welcoming.
Wow, now that’s a really great travel story!
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