Taxi! (Berlin): Reza

If there is one thing this Taxi! series has taught me, it is that life can be far more bizarre than fiction. Take the life and adventures of Reza, for example. After decades of being a grumpy delivery truck driver, he opted for the milder form of driving that not only protects his ageing back, but also allows him to interact with more people.   Unlike many of the other taxi drivers I have had the pleasure of meeting and have been on the road for decades, Reza is relatively new to the taxi world. He proudly told me that he…

Taxi! (Berlin): Nurhan

Of all the taxi drivers in Berlin that I have had the privilege of driving around town with, Nurhan was the first female taxi driver. Don’t get me wrong, there are several hundred female taxi drivers in Berlin, I just never had the opportunity to be sent one.  Her friendliness and lovely sense of humour was to my immediate. liking and she had a way of carrying on a conversation that did not feel forced, strained, superficial or dull. On the contrary, it seemed as though we were long lost cousins trying to catch up on the latest family gossip….

Taxi! (Berlin): Serkan

If I wrote about each and every taxi driver in Berlin that I encounter, I would end up with several volumes of books. Not all of them have an interesting story though, and some are not even that friendly or interested in carrying out a conversation. Others, like Serkan, are absolutely fascinating. Born and raised in Berlin from Turkish descent, Serkan got involved in the local Turkish football (soccer) club from an early age, despite objections from his parents. He soon discovered that football was far more important to him than academics, and took it very seriously. The physical discipline…

Taxi! (Berlin): Bedar

I am not really sure where to start when it comes to telling the woeful tale of Bedar. He hasn’t been a taxi driver in Berlin for long, six years tops he says. Before that he did a series of odd jobs with no permanence or long-term to his name, and in spite of living in Germany for the past 28 years, his language is wobbly, a fact that he bewails. Bedar is a Palestinian born in the refugee camps of Lebanon. His parents fled Palestine and have remained there all their lives, like so many others. Bedar´s mother once…

Taxi! (Berlin): Kiyani

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. The restaurant business kept him hostage for over a decade, until his…

Taxi! (Berlin): Memu

At first I couldn’t place his accent, but then as the conversation began, I completely understood: born in Lebanon, Memu arrived in Germany 40 years ago by fluke. When he finished High School in Beirut, he had every intention to study medicine, but was hesitant because of the length of the course. His sister, who was already in Germany, assured him that the course would be shorter here and he believed her. Then civil war broke out in Lebanon and all the plans changed.  Memu managed to escape shortly before the Siege of Beirut and made his way to Germany….

Taxi! (Berlin): Frank

The first thing that struck me about Frank when I got into his taxi was the absence of a GPS. Up until that point I had assumed that an electronic navigation system was a requirement for all taxi drivers here in Germany. When I gave him the address of my destination, Frank immediately pulled out a thick map book. I stared like a goldfish in amazement and asked whether he was actually going to look it up in a map! He chuckled in amusement and said that he knew every street in Berlin almost by heart but hadn’t been in…