This Aussie cab driver’s story will really make you think about the world we’re living in. Wow… 48



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Darren Hanlon had gone past his stop on the bus. Lost and in an unfamiliar area on Saturday night, he caught an Uber and it opened his eyes.

We’ve all had amazing cab drivers over the year who regale us with stories of humour and sometimes sadness, but this one really takes the cake:

Last night in Sydney, deeply engrossed in a newspaper, I missed my bus stop by a long shot. I looked up to see a neighbourhood I didn’t recognise so I dinged the bell and was deposited outside a brightly lit Ferrari dealership.

I called an Uber and it found me there within minutes and me being jaded by cunning detouring cab drivers of the past I insisted my driver use the GPS.

“Ok,” he said broad-smiling and tapped the screen, “but GPS, for all its technology, does not have human common sense. Sometimes I shake my head at it.”

I sunk down in the seat and we settled into the usual small talk, his shift hours and workload. I commented on new construction we passed on the site of my favourite old auction house. Sydney is changing fast he told me. Like everywhere I said sounding like a boring old crony. He was from India he said and knew the area well. I looked over and could see even with him sitting down he was small framed, his chin almost in line with the top of the steering wheel.

“Speaking of human common sense,” he said bringing it back to the GPS, ” I can’t understand these who go around killing other people… in cold blood.”

Although it’s been on everyone’s mind today it was still an abrupt shift. He’d dovetailed it into the conversation as if he’d been waiting to. I recognised the moment that sometimes happens in the driver/passenger relationship where the banal switches to the deeply personal, the freedom allowed strangers who are trapped in a finite time period together. I straightened myself in my seat.

“I’m a Muslim,” he said almost as a confession, “and this is not what I was taught as a child.”

I just sat quietly and listened. It felt like he needed to talk. He said he was praying at a mosque in Zetland when he got my ride request. He’d been praying for most of the day.

“These people say they act under the name of Islam. I’ve studied religion, theology. The etymology of the word Islam comes from a word that means Peace.”

He told me how one of his teachers had explained to him that people will angle teachings of the Koran to reflect their own needs. The finance banker will use certain lines to justify his actions, just as the jihadist will do the same. We talked about how many other religious faiths have been exploited too. I looked over to see him wipe tears from his eyes.

“Doesn’t the Koran have a basic law… like the Bible… that says Thou Shalt Not Kill?” I asked.

“Of course!” he exclaimed, “The second highest law says that if you kill a single soul it’s like killing the soul of all humanity. If you save a single soul, you save all humanity.”

We’d reached our destination, just off King St, but still we sat in the car and talked (he turned the meter off!). Light rain sprinkled the windscreen as we watched the Saturday night revellers stream across the intersection. It felt like we were two cops, from different walks of life, on a movie stakeout.

He quoted Koran verses often brandished by fundamentalists, robbed of their ancient historical context. We mourned the victims in Paris. We mourned the young martyrs whose minds have been brainwashed. “It appeals to their child fantasies,” he said. We searched for some kind of coda that could send us both on our ways.

I tried lamely with, “Well, it’s just something we all have to accept as part of our lives now.”

“What were your first thoughts when you heard the news this morning?” he asked.

“Well to be honest, even though I knew they were all safe, I thought of my own family. And friends,” I said striving for a better answer, “I felt devastated for the people involved in Paris. But always in a tragedy I feel a kind of worry for my family and friends.”

“That’s a value of life!” he said, “That’s love! That is the only defence!”

We were both okay to end on that. I closed the door of the car and rushed off to my waiting meal with some of those dear friends. “I just had an emotional Uber experience,” I told them, and my mind kept returning to it for the rest of the night. And now today I didn’t wanna write this as some kind of statement. I just want to tell you about my brief random conversation with a sad Muslim Sydney Uber driver, whose religion is being taken from him.

Originally posted here.

Tell us, has this changed your perspective about these recent attacks and Islam? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I don’t need my mind changed, Muslims are human beings like all of us and most are very caring people unfortunately some are not, however some of our own are NOT either, ISIS are EVIL MURDERERS, who hide behind the ISLAMIC RELIGION.

    5 REPLY
    • Elizabeth, probably the same way we identify the ‘caring’ Christians, Hindus, Buddhists or athiests from those who are not.

    • Elizabeth if you don’t know how to identify someone who is caring then I feel sorry for you!

    • Elizabeth how do you identify the caring Westerner against those who are not. Through no fault of our own and due to actions of a neighbour I’ve never felt really secure at home ever since, no Muslim involved just a psychopathic man.

    • So true Trish! My goodness there is “bad” people in all groups Elizabeth, not just Muslims. Oh of course some believe Pauline Hansons ” all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim” she’s crazy !!

  2. I took a cab from Sydney Central Railway to Bondi Junction with a cab driver who was speaking on the mobile yo get directions. This fare was ten dollars more then the return trip and I went past one building twice.

  3. Stolen from Facebook. A lovely story. If only it was true. How many texts are lifted from the Koran to incite violence?

  4. I had a long conversation with an Iranian taxi driver in Vancouver. It was just after the shooting of the predominately British tourists on a beach. The damage those action do to the ordinary people aside from the initial carnage, families who use the tourist season to pay their way for the rest of the year lose income and the whole community suffers great hardship. He talked about people like Man Monis who he had met. He said there were those in the Muslim community who were genuine refugees as their lives were in real danger as they were important opposition spokespeople but in exile as a refugee their former importance was gone. Nobody asked or cared what their opinion was anymore they were just another displaced person with no more importance than the next person. Some could never adjust to this lack of status and importance and he felt some of these people were the danger within his community as they tried all sorts of ploys to regain status and importance. It was a fascinating conversation as he raised issues I’d never considered.

    5 REPLY
  5. Uber is an illegal service !! The driver should be deported,

    7 REPLY
    • Uber is still an illegal service, if you want to support it go ahead, but I am a law abiding citizen and by the way , you talk about getting ripped of, Uber will charge according to how busy it is, a $20.00 fare can become a $120.00 fare during a busy period, the first you will know about is when you read your credit card statement.

    • The people using Uber should be prosecuted as well for using an illegal service, What would the world be like if everyone ignored the law as you do ?

    • Why , because I am a law abiding citizen, who the hell do you think you are to tell me to get some sense, no, you get some sense and abide by the laws.

  6. Yeh I. Had one try a jam the Koran down my throat , the fucker would not stop when I told him to shut the fuck up about his ideological crap in the end the cops came and took him away

  7. That’s right Trish Daley Isis is evil who do hide behind the Islamic Religion. Not all Muslims are evil but family members who love their families and don’t like Isis as well. This is coming from a Anglo Saxon Aussie

  8. Hasn’t changed my mind. I had a beautiful day today discovering there are people like me who are deeply sadened by the hate and intolerance I am seeing and reading, so much, so hateful, so venomous. There are people like me who are sickened by the hatred, knowing that hatred will not fix the problems. This is a sad beautiful story that confirms my positive day today. It tells me that the other half of humanity feels like me, that breeding hatred is losing the beauty of humanity. This is a sad, beautiful story that tells me I am right, that some of the people I have communicated with today are right. We have to stop the hate, it is causing so much suffering, not fixing the proplems.

    2 REPLY

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