Born in Iran, Kiyani’s dream was to study medicine or engineering and have a flourishing career. Sadly, he was drafted into the army and sent to the front. After witnessing the horrors of war for two years and the death of many a friend and platoon member, Kiyani himself was injured and discharged from the army. He made his way to Germany via Turkey and sought political asylum here, seeking out all sorts of odd jobs to earn a living, before enrolling in vocational training as a cook.

kiyani2The restaurant business kept him hostage for over a decade, until his old war injuries and back began making it difficult for him to stand for the long shifts. Like many others, he turned to taxi driving temporarily, and decided to stay. “It is not a job that will ever make me rich, but I am comfortable enough.” Not only is taxi driving an occupation that was easy on the legs and back, but he gets to interact with the customers in a way that he longed do so as a cook.

As an independent contractor, Kiyani owns the taxi he drives. He used to have three taxis but with all the hassle with the tax office and insurances, it was deemed wiser to trim it down to just one. The taxi, however, operates during day and night shifts – his wife takes the day shift and Kiyani himself takes over the night shift. I asked how that worked for them as a family, and he said they are one of many couples in Berlin who run taxis this way. It is not the ideal solution, but it works. This way, one parent is always home for the children.

In spite of all the years of living in Germany, Kiyani still struggles with some aspects of German culture, particularly the frankness. “I miss the Asian way of saying things without having to be brutally frank and hurtful.” Finding the perfect balance between Asian and German parenting is not easy, and this was a topic we could definitely agree on and discuss in depth during the drive. “Much as I want to raise my daughters entirely as Asian, they need to be more German in order to survive the schools and culture here. I want my daughters to be strong and independent women, and in order to do that I need to bend over backwards and teach them the best of both worlds.”