The Cab Ride

September 23, 2007

The phone rang…”Your cab’s here sir”

“You’re 15 minutes early. Give me 5 minutes and I’ll be there.”

Akhil was bristling with excitement. Three weeks. That was how long he was going to be gone. Home. After all of two years. Akhil was a young Indian living the American dream thousands of miles away from family. He thought of his argument with his boss when he asked him to let him take all of his annual vacations in one go – “Three weeks! That’s too long” was his initial reaction.” Akhil smiled.

He hauled his bags down the four flights of stairs and out the door. The limo driver was waiting patiently for him. As Akhil saw him he smiled. “Aap Hindi bolte hain?” The driver looked Indian.




As the driver helped transfer the luggage in the car, he told his name – Nayeem. They were on their way to the airport.

Turned out Nayeem was Pakistani. Soon he turned on his stereo, and a vintage Lata Mangeshkar song from Abhiman started. Good stuff. Nayeem turned to him…” Amazing woman that one. Did she every marry? And they were soon discussing her life and her music.

Akhil was fascinated…he’d never talked to a Pakistani. Only heard all the political rhetoric from the not-so-friendly neighbors cursing each other. Yet here he was, in New York, with a Pakistani cab driver discussing Lata Mangeshkar. He realized that this might be the chance to ask all about Pakistan that he wanted to ask but didn’t know whom to ask.

“What language do you guys speak in Pakistan?”

“Urdu. Punjabi in some provinces.”

Turned out Nayeem was Punjabi, as was our man. “Te fir assi Punjabi wich hi gaal karde nain”. Akhil was embarrassed. He could understand but not talk fluent in the language. Turned out today he did have a conversation in Punjabi for the first time in his life.

Nayeem had his questions.

“What is the deal with New Delhi and Old Delhi. Are they different cities?”

“What religion do you practice?”

“Many Muslims in India?”

He was a god fearing man, had a wife and two sons back in Pakistan, and went home once a year for a couple of months. “Tuannu shaadi kar laini chayedi hai…is mulk wich kalle raina musibat da kar hai. Shaadi naal aadmi buri gallan ton vi bacha renda hai” (You should get married…it keeps you away from the evils especially in the American society.) Honest advice from an honest man.

The ride lasted more than an hour…time enough for plenty of questions. Two strangers from two hostile nations with different lifestyles and upbringings trying to know more about the other. Two more people who left wondering why the hell their countries were spending billions on killing each other’s people when they had so many problems of their own that needed to be resolved first.


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14 Responses to “ The Cab Ride ”

  1. amit kumar on September 15, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    cool stuff !

  2. Anonymous on September 15, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    the indo pak conflict will never end. What will the politicians do if it did ? Lol

  3. ravi on September 16, 2007 at 10:05 am

    akhil is such a dork ! Well written piece :)

  4. amreekandesi on September 16, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks guys ! I am getting back to writing after a while…hope to improve as i work on this. Your comments are invaluable :)

  5. madhuri on September 18, 2007 at 9:17 am

    When i first moved to the USA, i would go to the only one indian store nearby for shopping and it turned out to be a pakistani owned. But i never felt anything but at home in the shop with familiar indian brands of goods. That shop did a lot for me to deter my severe homesickness. The cashier was a very kind gentleman and was both curtious and respectful. Sometimes i feel that since the time we are born, we are fed on so much hatred by everything around us that we forget to keep an open mind.

  6. rads on September 23, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Nicely written :)

    Hoenstly, the differences one talks about is only when we fight it out on the cricket field. ;-)
    Otherwise, everyone’s just about anyone else.

  7. amreekandesi on September 23, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks Rads!

    And as long as the aggression is kept to the cricket field, we should be good.
    Make runs, not war

  8. pr3rna on September 24, 2007 at 7:36 am

    //Make runs, not war// well said.
    The only advice I would give is if you have Pakistani friends don’t meet with them during the Indo-Pak cricket match.It is a pleasure otherwise to talk to people from the subcontinent.

  9. amreekandesi on September 25, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Very true,Prerna. I personally never feel a difference whether i am talking to a pakistani or an indian (at least here in newyork). Like you said, always a pleasure.

  10. nrsl on October 2, 2007 at 5:26 am

    Honestly I never could find a difference in an Indian or a Pakistani when I interacted.. They just seem different pieces of a one soul! :-)

  11. dids on October 14, 2007 at 1:18 am

    Good.Really good.Came here with a’Let-me-see-what-is-it-all-about, n have been here for over 45 min!Good work.Keep going:)

  12. all talk and no action on September 21, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Well Written!

    But thinking that both nations should mind their internal problems is wishful thinking..but that’s another case altogether :)

  13. Poonam on January 7, 2009 at 3:17 am

    As soon as I erad name Nayeem, I knew he had to be Pakistani. We see this Indian-Pakistani duo a lot in Bolly movies that are trying to depict US. How true is this cliche?

  14. amreekandesi on January 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    @Poonam - In the US, Indians/Pakistani are really the same race. You cant tell them apart by looking at them. They speak the same language. They have similar cultures. Some Indian restaurants are run by Pakistanis.

    So yes, i would say that they live in good harmony. No politics to create rifts between the communities. At least none that i have seen or am aware of.

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