By Kevin Anthony Stoda
received a lift by taxi from near my home to the college of technology in
In his life, this aging Omani taxi driver had worked as a mason, a carpenter, and as a truck driver. This Omani lives now in Dahariz (a part of Salalah), but he had worked in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and other locations in the middle East over the decades. Over the years, he had worked normally privately for various firms, including those who do contracts with the Omani military.
This Omani octogenarian noted that he had never gone to school. He proudly shared that he could, however, write, and he could read the Koran. He could not speak other languages, like Gaballi or Mahri--or even English (all languages used in this region). However, it was quite clear by his driving skills and his facilities in his native language, Arabic, that the man was a capable and lucid man from whom current generations could learn so much.
Second, often, taxi driving is not
the only job that the driver has or has had.
That is, almost all taxi drivers either work (or worked) for a private
firm, for the government, or for themselves or their families. This means that when you enter the office or
taxi, you enter a second or third office if you please. You ask where the other places are where the man works or worked. Then you proceed to have a conversation about
that job. For example, here in Salalah, I often get military personnel,
government officers, and private contractors who drive part time as taxi
drivers. Some are from the Dhofar
regions--others are from
Some drivers share quite a bit. Others are more tight-mouthed or simply less reflective. However, most taxi drivers are insightful or simply willing to share gems about themselves, their region, their families, and their societies. Some work as tour guides on and off--which is important here in Dhofar due to the annual migration of visitors during the Khareef Season.
One of the more interesting drivers
I have met was also from Dahariz, i.e. as was the octogenarian cab driver I met
today. That younger driver was not only fairly fluent in English but even more
fluent in Spanish--as well as in his native Arabic dialects. The man had gone to
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