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mardi 14 juin 2016


The Exuberant Uber Driver of Kuala Lumpur
My two North American Indian friends were going home after a very enjoyable study/vacation/knowledge trip of 2 weeks. I had accompanied them on this trip, their first to Asia.
We were at Double Tree by Hilton at KL, said goodbye to the staff at the Executive Lounge at 34th floor. I wondered, what does it say about a trip, a city, a country, a hotel when you feel sad saying good bye to the staff? There was genuine tenderness.

We requested an Uber XL since we had plenty of luggage with us and very soon Mr. CCC arrives in his car, we had to fit in four suitcases in the boot, there were badminton racquets and balls. He apologized for keeping us waiting (just seven minutes after we requested Mr. C was at the front of the hotel!). The conversation began with the usual politeness, about the utility of Uber and the roads of KL and the traffic and such.
C had a cheerful personality, like many of his generation keeps in touch with the World News. When I told him I was from Cuba and my friends are Americans, he remarked about the thaw in relations between Cuba and USA and had a suggestion that the reason for warm relationship of Malaysia with Cuba was a rebuke to the USA by then PM, Mahathir Mohammed. He has travelled regionally and is up to date about what is happening in the region. Of course, like most Malaysians he is concerned about the quotidian struggles of living in Malaysia, while appreciating all what “God” (he later confessed that he had become an atheist) had blessed Malaysia with: forests, sun and the rain, exempt from cyclones and tsunami and natural wealth. Of course, we are not that lucky with our leaders, he blurted out laughing and we all laughed about the recent scandals of the current PM receiving nearly a billion dollars into his private account as a “gift” and the attorney general clearing his name, saying all is fine and the other politicians banding to say that we must forget the scandal and move on to more Islamization and kindness and RM 500 to every civil servant during Ramadan. Even if the PM were to pay it out of his “gift” he would still have money left over for himself and his family. I confessed to C my own “Malaysian Dilemma”, I love this country more after each visit and have made some very good friends, I love the food here. Being a Jew I am a little uncomfortable with the nature of Islamization which is not taking the forward and in fact taking it nowhere. We laughed about certain incongruities of Malaysian life as we cruised towards KLIA.
When I told him I was a doctor, he proudly turned to me and said: How old do you think I am? I said it is difficult to guess the age of middle aged Asians, they are either young or old or middle aged but there are no thirty something look or fortysomething look as is evident among the Europeans. I am fifty, he proudly announced.
He then told us the story embellished of course which had all of us laughing till we reached the Departure area of KLIA.
He is actually is a self-employed owner of a business, which employs about 15 employees and most of them are Malay. His doctor had advised him, on reaching 50 years of age that he must give up smoking and drinking. He felt that he was drinking and smoking due to the stress of the nature of his business. He hit upon the idea of becoming an Uber driver after work, so that his mind will be occupied and keep him away from cigarettes and alcohol as his doctor had ordered. He loves being an Uber driver, he feels far more relaxed and has given up his smoking habit and is cutting down of his alcohol intake, which he hopes to give up completely. We were rolling with laughter at the way he was relating the story, mixing it with his business, his travels, the local politics and health. If laughter is the best medicine, this man is the healthiest person around.
For my American Indian friends this was the highlight of a well-rounded and enjoyable visit. The best! I shouted as he drove away. Our Uber experiences in KL has been nothing short of excellent but C certainly is the cream of the crop...
So, for the chubby, inactive Malaysians, of which there are plenty, the lesson is