Melbourne, May 2015, from airport to home, 40 minutes
Driver: from Ethiopia, Muslim, mid 40s, married , 6 kids
This time I managed to catch an early flight. And I got an aisle seat – my first preference. Life was looking up.
I prefer to grab a taxi instead of a pre-arranged pick up – there is always an element of mystery. Sometimes I am lucky and I get really interesting stories, sometimes drivers become my friends, sometimes I even visit them in India. (Ok, that has not happened yet, but I got a few strong invitations and actually plan to visit one of them. I wrote about this driver here).
Anyway, this time I got an Ephiopian guy. He has been living in Australia for the last 17 years, and has never been back to his country because of political instability. According to him, there is a war between some tribes and he is afraid to be caught in the middle. (I am blissfully politically ignorant and like it that way. So I had to take his word for it).
My driver had been married back in Ethiopia and migrated here with his wife. They have got 6 kids already. As a response to my question if they drive him crazy, he very reasonably answered “why do you think I work 6 days a week?”. I guess this is his way to preserve some sanity.
Apparently, his wife wants even more kids, while he thinks they already have got enough. “Every time before sex I ask her if she took the pill and she says yes. But I think she is lying”. I decided not to enlighten him about the different ways of stopping this madness himself. Not my problem.
Somehow our conversation moved to the western suburbs of Melbourne. (Oh, I remember – I asked where I can try their traditional food). To tell the truth, I am not really keen to go there. The driver agreed with me. He said that it is a dangerous area because of drugs and crime.
– And all of this is because of the stupid Australian government!
This statement got my attention.
– Why is that? What has this got to do with our government?
(Please don’t get me wrong, I know that no government is perfect, but this statement was really outrageous).
– The Australian government supports all those young people too much. It gives them money and accommodation and lots of freedom. And the problem starts from schools. Back in my country, kids were very respectful, obedient and could be disciplined by their parents. In Australia, kids go to school where teachers brainwash them, planting idiotic ideas in students’ heads ‘everybody is in charge of their own life’, and that they ‘can achieve anything if they really want and they don’t need to follow traditions’. Kids come home and don’t listen to their parents any more. When parents try to discipline them, kids call police. Just imagine, my cousin’s 14 yo son called the police and reported his father.
– Oh, what happened? Why?
– The boy wanted to play footy, while his father told him to go to mosque. They argued and the father slapped him a few times. The boy called the police and was moved to foster home.
– Look, it’s had probably happened more than once, right? Otherwise the police would not take the boy away.
– Yes indeed, it happened almost every day, but the boy was very naughty. And now he lives somewhere else, getting some money and goes to a different school. And my cousin can’t talk to his own son. How is that acceptable?
– Look, I don’t know the whole story, but I assume that the father was constantly beating his son. This is not allowed in our country.
– What has this to do with the country? His son is his responsibility. Only family can teach kids proper behaviour, not your government or school. And what if this boy will start use drugs? Who is responsible?
I started to get angry, but still tried to reason with my driver. In this case, the government was trying to help a young person to stay on his feet.
The whole conversation started to get heated. I was fully alert and tried to find some points to show him other side of the story.
– So, you probably think that a woman can call Centrelink and ask for refuge from her husband? To help her escaping from her duties and take kids away from the father?
– Hey, what are you talking about now?
– My brothers wife did exactly that. She called some women services, reported that he was beating and raping her and the officials provided her with emergency accommodation, food and money.
– Did he really beat her?
– Not too much, no. It was not visible. She would never thought about it in my country. That country had strong discipline and traditions. Any woman must do anything her husband asks her, she is HIS wife.
– She would not have any money to live on and support herself. The MAN brings money in for the family. And now she does not need him any more. That’s what your government did to this family and many many other families. Here, women live separately, kids do drugs, and fathers can’t even arrange husbands for their daughters. What next?
– You mean husbands for young girls, teenagers?
– This is our tradition, we always do like this in our country.
– But you are not in your country any more. You are in Australia now.
– So what? We don’t want any change.
– Looks like you don’t like it here very much. Would you go back?
– No, of course not. I told you there’s a war going on for the last 20 years. Why would I go back?
That’s it. I rest my case.