31 October 2005

selamat hari raya

i went thru the motions at the immigration, waited for 25 minutes for my 4 pieces of check in baggage and got myself an airport taxi home .... i returned after finishing a whole year's tour of duty in bangkok ... another year in my company. this one, not even mentioned, although this is my 5th anniversary with the company on 23 october ...

my luck was good ... i remarked to myself when i saw the empty queue at exit 3 at the klia arrival hall. better still the fact that i am getting one of those newer daewoo taxis, not the dilapilated proton wiras ...

anyway, since i had so many bags, including 1 humongous golf bag, i had to sit in the front passanger seat .. the back seats were all filled with luggage.

immediately, i struck a conversation with the old pakcik who's driving ....

driver : sigh ... another bandar kinrara trip
moz : uh, what's wrong with that ?
driver : nothing, just that i'm not going to make the quota
moz : really, what's the quota ?

and thus we started a conversation.

it turned out that he had been driving airport taxis for the last 6 years, and the month of ramadhan has always been poor, with very few passangers, but this year was doubly bad.

he had been driving since 6 in the morning, and only had 3 trips, and the total fare is not sufficient to cover his rental, maintenance and fuel costs. it appears that you need to make around rm 230 daily to start making profit. and even with my trip at around 8:30 pm, he is just on around rm 160.

we started talking about how expensive the daewoos are to maintain, how the rent and maintenance eats into the profit, and how the darn airport limo company and government doesn't give a damn about the driver's welfare (which they pay on their own ... i think around rm18 is charged daily into a welfare fund).

and he went on to tell me how he won't be able to return to his kampung in besut, terengganu this year because he doesn't have any money, that he only has enough money to get new clothes for his 2 youngest children.

he went on about how expensive it is for him to put his eldest child thru uitm's nursing course, even with government help, which he gets since he is a bumiputra.

i couldn't really do much to console the pakcik, who must be feeling quite bad about missing his family during the raya. i know how it feels, i have been away from the country very often myself, and i miss the family gatherings, the family weddings, the mid autumn festivals and the winter solstices ... but i really feel bad for him. he kept telling me that when he left besut, his daughter was only 1 year old, and now she's 7 - and he feels guilty for missing all her growing up years, but he had to feed his family of 6 children.

he complainted about his ungrateful sons who seem to be spending away his money with reckless abandon.

i shared some of my own experience of hardship in my younger days, though i don't think i come close to him in terms of troubled times experience. i hope it will make him feel better, that we all will go through our share of bad times, and hard work is the only feasible way for us common people to make a better life.

our conversation ended when we reached my home. home sweet home to me, another trip for him to hope to make some money today.

to him, and all the others who won't be able to celebrate raya in their kampung, selamat hari raya, maaf zahir dan batin.

to those who are fortunate enough to be spending time with family, drive safely on your way home, cherish the time with your family, and don't forget to be thankful and grateful for what you have. what you don't have you can get by working hard for it, as long as you dare to dream, the will and good health to pursue your dreams.

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