You wouldn’t think the Bangladesh embassy would represent big business for cabbies. But with 600,000 Bangladeshis already living in Malaysia and an estimated 1.5 million on the way in the next few years, there are a lot of people who need a visa. And the taxi drivers are cashing in – lining up from dawn until dusk and whisking hopeful folks to get their next bureaucratic stamp or letter.
Up until a few months ago, I didn’t even know we lived across the street from this embassy. Visitors used to enter from the street at the back. In fact, I rarely saw a cab on our street at all.
But, as more and more Bangladeshis move to the country and Malaysia attempts to crackdown on anyone living here illegally, the numbers have swelled to the point where they needed a larger staging area and a wider sidewalk for the cabbies to park on.
Now, every afternoon, I have wonderful theatre to entertain me. Here are my favourite scenes:
- Cabbies jumping the queue – This is not cool, but still is attempted at least a few times per day. The result is shouting. Lots of shouting. And maybe a slam on the offender’s hood. The line jumpers don’t put up much of a fight though. They often just slyly park down the block and try to entice fares with some high-pitched whistles and taxi cab telepathy.
- Milling about – Taxi drivers and Bangladeshis apparently love to mill about. Even after they stand in line for who knows how long getting their documents in order, people come outside the gate and just stand around some more. Even the cabbies seem enamored with waiting . I’ve seen 20 cabs lined up and even more are waiting to get on the sidewalk. I love a good mill.
- Celebratory hooting – The occasional hooting and cheering comes from inside the embassy. It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, it sounds like someone just scored a golden goal. I really have no idea what they’re happy about, but I imagine it to be celebrating someone actually getting a stamp in their visa – or maybe they have a side cock fight going on to keep people entertained. Either way, I always join in on the cheer too.
- Food vendors – Entrepreneurs abound in KL. So, the moment the taxi line forms, there is a little guy (or guys) on a food bike ringing a bell and selling snacks and drinks. Great business. I should probably apply.
- Only men – Women are obviously too smart to take part in this gong show.
- The boss man – I’ve identified a few taxi line supervisors, however my favourite guy sports a mullet and tight jeans. He struts around the sidewalk barking out orders, trying to entice people into cabs and shouting at anyone daring to jump the line. He reminds me of a Malaysian Bruce Willis, if Bruce Willis had a mullet or any hair at all.
Now tell me. If you had this excitement to watch every day, would you really want to get a job?
Peace and love.