Thursday, June 02, 2005
I gotta write about this other guy I met yesterday. I was at the rank on Bondi Beach, my favourite rank, you can lean on the sea wall and look out over the ocean towards Aotearoa. There's never anybody there, any other cabs I mean. So I got out to light up a gadang garam (yeah, I cracked, stressed out, bad news ... ) and there was this big guy standing there in a T shirt, sky blue shorts, runners, a milkshake in one hand and a mobile in the other, speaking very loudly about those fuckers in the Immigration Department. Our eyes met and I wondered if he wanted to go somewhere. He was quite dark, black curly hair, maybe Arab, maybe not. His accent though had that wonderful familiar Maori cast to it. Anyway, I smoked and eavesdropped, he talked and then, eventually, having made an arrangment to go round and see who he was calling, cut the connection. Do you want a taxi? I asked. Yeah, man, but finish your smoke. There's no hurry. He was Brazilian. We talked about Césaria Évora. He remembered his grandmother listening to her just a few weeks ago. And other things. Fado. The Cape Verde Islands. Easter Island. He'd been in Australia since he was eleven. Still on a Brazilian passport, but he wanted to go back for a visit, first time since he came, seventeen years ago. Nothing violent, but I've done a few things. B & E mostly. A year inside. Now the fuckers are trying to say if I go back to Brazil, they won't let me in again. But I've sorted it out. It's sweet. He spoke like he did because he works with Maori and Islander guys, fitting steel plates for tunnels and other major constructions. When we got going he said Don't turn the meter on, man, fucking Howard can't tax what he doesn't know about. I know how much it is, it's always four bucks. This is an old Sydney custom, fast dying out ... you decide beforehand what the trip'll cost and travel without the meter ticking. It changes the whole relationship, you instantly become friends sharing a ride, not customer and service provider. The cab turns into a Gypsy Cab, there's a low grade licit thrill even in that. I took him up Bondi Road a ways, stopped outside the Royal on the corner of Denham Street. He produced five bucks from somewhere. We shook hands. Rapanui, he said. Miles from fucking anywhere. How'd those Maoris get there? They paddled, I said. We laughed and said goodbye.