Taxi Flu

Pakistan bests Zimbabwe for shot at Canada Cup Title. In other news, I have the flu.

For the hell of it, I’d love to say I have Bird Flu if only to commemorate my stokage when I saw a giant M.I.A. poster on the front door at Haandi on Lexington between 27th and 28th, the first stop on my magical taxi tour. For a dollar, Haandi has the best Kashmiri chai in New York. And yes, stokage is a word.

I loitered in the Haandi dining room, where three South Asian men devoured daal ghosht, salad and raita in quick, neat bites, their eyes trained alternately on the  cricket match playing in the corner and the line of cabs outside. Each, in turn, ducked into a tiny bathroom in the back of the store. Business was slow, and  nobody was much for conversation.

My next stop was more fruitful. After stocking up on rosewater and candied fennel seeds, I headed to a DVD store on 28th whose name I have tragically forgotten. Struck up a conversation with a cabbie who was buying the soundtrack to Taare Zameen Par, which is now India’s entry to the 2009 Oscars. He couldn’t give me a ride or anything on the record, but he did give me explicit walking directions to the New York Taxi Workers’ Association building. Unfortunately, nobody’s home until Tuesday.

So, it was downtown to the famous Lahore Deli, where Aamir Ajaz serves pretty ok samosa with a big smile. He set down a lot of wisdom, and later introduced me to  Muhammad, 19, who started driving a taxi when he graduated from Lafayette High School in Brooklyn. Muhammad lives in Coney Isalnd, and hates his job.

Tomorrow, it’s out to Long Island City to visit Queens Medallion Brokerage and maybe Ronart Leasing Corp., the largest NYC yellow fleet. Then, back on Tuesday to see the Taxi and Limousine Commission Licensing Office, and finally to the NYTWA’s offices on the east side. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, I have to find time to get  a hold of TLC public affairs, etc, by phone.

That’s article one.

Article 2, if I can swing it, is about Pakistanis and the vote. I will be asking taxi drivers if their customers chat to them about the election, whether they are voting, and how they feel the candidates (esp. given Pakistan’s new role on the stump). I will be asking the Coney Island Avenue Project if they are registering/encouraging people to vote, and if so, how. I may also visit another brokerage on CI Ave.

What do you want? I have the flu.


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