Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Conversation with a Cab Driver

A cab in Almaty is really anybody with a car and an empty seat. There are some official taxi companies, but for the most part when you want a taxi, stand on the side of the street, raise your hand, wait for someone to stop, negotiate a fare to your destination and go. Sounds unsafe (probably is), but it works, as I regularly take taxis in the evening because it is much safer than walking home alone. I also enjoy practicing my Russian with the cab drivers -- they are usually pretty friendly and do not judge me when I make mistakes.

Last night, I had a particularly fascinating conversation with my cab driver. When I shared I was American, he remarked, "Do you like Kazakhstan?"
"Of course I do. Do you like America?"
The cab driver exclaimed, "Yes, Obama!"
"Yes, Obama, our President. Do you like Obama?" I asked.
"Obama, yes. Nazarbayev's a Muslim, Obama's a Muslim, I'm a Muslim....I like him."

Not really knowing what to say to the cab driver's inaccurate comment (President Obama is not Muslim), I simply brushed off the comment with a casual, "cool." Yet, the fact that the driver perceives Obama as a Muslim is absolutely fascinating. I don't really know what to make of this, but thought it was an interesting comment. Please feel free to post comments and share your thoughts.

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