Zahida Kazmi, Taxi Driver
March 12, 2011 2:43 AM   Subscribe

For the past two decades, Zahida Kazmi has been driving a cab in Pakistan.
posted by bardophile (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Quoth the server: 404
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:06 AM on March 12, 2011

I've had cab rides like that. You need to act as if you're a local and then they'll take you the direct route.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:16 AM on March 12, 2011

dougrayrankin: Which link?
posted by bardophile at 4:34 AM on March 12, 2011

the one where url is a cache from google apparently
posted by infini at 4:52 AM on March 12, 2011

This should work better. I've asked the mods to fix it in the original post, as well.
posted by bardophile at 5:37 AM on March 12, 2011

Q. How do the police treat you?

A. I deeply admire the police of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. They have been encouraging me. They have never extorted money from me.
That made me chuckle.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:46 AM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

This made me suspicious because, if a passenger does not bicker with you, there is something wrong.

Correct taxi advice for most of the world.
posted by Forktine at 6:01 AM on March 12, 2011

Mod note: Changed the link.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:22 AM on March 12, 2011

dougrayrankin: Yes, I imagine it would. Of course, she's talking about a system where the police will routinely ask for "money for a cup of tea," just for the privilege of not being harassed by them. Not universal, but commonplace.
posted by bardophile at 6:37 AM on March 12, 2011

Some day a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets.
posted by Bromius at 6:45 AM on March 12, 2011


I can't imagine having to *persuade* people to get in your cab. Twelve days without a fare? Holy shit, I would have so quit. Major props to her. The roads alone must be hell on your cab, and trying to negotiate that plus the insanity of overwhelming disapproval for your gender/job... I'm sure anytime something goes wrong (even a busted tire) it's blamed on the fact that she has a vagina.

Also, when I drove hack, I had the same plan to throw the keys out the window when someone threatened me. I threatened to do it one time on Lake Shore Drive with a guy who was giving me shit, but the threat was enough. But--fuck me!--I never thought of keeping a spare in my sock.
posted by RedEmma at 7:52 AM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine having to *persuade* people to get in your cab.

This actually doesn't have anything to do with gender. Cabbies in Pakistan (and the UAE, for that matter) will routinely have to persuade people to get into their cabs. They'll call out fares, and bid each other down.

Not getting a fare for twelve days may have been the result of being unwilling/uncomfortable with having to take part in the bidding down process. This most definitely is related to gender.
posted by bardophile at 11:03 AM on March 12, 2011

A few trips ago, in Dushanbe, my woman and I got a real treat - the last cab driver in the Soviet Union.

So this must have been 2009, 2010, almost 20 years since the collapse, and he is driving an original Soviet-era Dushanbe taxi cab, a GAZ-24. Still original faded yellow paint with logo, a broken but still mounted meter. He had been driving cab all his adult life. And he was sociable and gregarious, telling us all about the old days and how things are no good anymore.

A really memorable ride, I wonder how long he'll still be there.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:49 PM on March 12, 2011

I get that, bardophile. I'm saying it would *suck* as a woman (and as a man, too, I'm sure) to have to do the whole bargaining/bidding thing for fares. It's hard enough being a woman in a cab without drawing attention to yourself in this manner. Never mind the cultural taboo for being aggressive in this way.

One of the things I learned right quick was that I was much safer if people didn't know I was female before they got in the car. I mean, I became popular with the hookers on North Avenue because I was female (I once actually had a pimp chase me down at 4am in his one-headlight car and scare the bejesus outta me because he "Just wanted you to take my girl!") I figured it was because I wouldn't try to get a blowjob "off the books," so to speak. Not to mention that they could start removing all their professional accessories in the car on the way home before their kids saw them. (One woman started with her shoes, and stockings, and wig... it went on from there.) In that case, I felt like it was okay. But with the regular drunkard on the street, I didn't want someone choosing me as an easy mark.

The first time I chopped off all my hair and did the whole Winona-in-Night-on-Earth flannels and backwards hat thing, it was because people would mistake me for a small guy in the shade inside the car. If i had had to get out and bargain for fares, I would have felt *extremely* exposed.

I'm sure that in some ways, Pakistan is a safer place (in others, not so much). I should add that I well remember the terror of those first days. I was patently *not aggressive* with fares, and even in Chicago I avoided hotel and airport lines because I didn't want to deal with other cabbies and their barely contained rage. I'm sure I would never have the guts to drive in Pakistan.
posted by RedEmma at 10:05 AM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

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