Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dancing in a L.A.-cab.

Shopping in Los Angeles is travelling to shopping malls and hoping they have in stock what they advertise on their websites.
Or hoping that it is the season for the fashion minded.

It is simple to say that someone wants a jean jacket but not one can be found in Macy’s nor the Banana Republic.
This means hunting for wishes, desires and bargains that many people experience as the real thrill of shopping.
If someone wants something specific, the person is forced to visit one shopping mall after the other as if that is an activity making more sense than making images for the PS-series.

What sneaked in between the vulgarity and superficiality of shopping was an extraordinary meeting with a taxi driver taking the confused but determined shopper to Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles, USA.

Seeing the driver in the mirror it was immediately realised where he was from.
As nothing holds the speaker back when intuition flares up high, the taxi driver heard:
“So, you are Russian”.
The man, maybe 60 or more years old, looked in the mirror to see who was making this statement to him.
He waited a few seconds before to say:
“And you are Polish”.
A special energy immediately existed between the two men enclosed in the driving car.
“The Poles and the Russians, have always been the best friends”, he said.
Obviously, this was sarcasm because the Russians have been hated by the Polish maybe even until today.
And for good reasons.
But soon an understanding was reached between the Russian taxi driver and the Polish photographer that hate exists but on a political level and not on an individual level.
A Russian and a Polish person can be friends but as peoples it is another ball game.

Of course the Russian taxi driver was from the Ukraine.
And of course he knew about Lwow, the city the photographer’s father is from.
And his family had also been forced by the political movements between 1939 and 1946 to leave their homeland to settle in another part of the Soviet Union.
He knew what it was to loose everything only because some politicians smoke cigars and drink whiskey in the resort town of Yalta in 1944.

Obviously this created a bond in the taxi.
The issue of personal suffering due to global politics deeply understood from both sides.
A Russian person is lost when driving a taxi in Los Angeles: who is interested in his history?
Who has any idea what happened?
Who has any understanding for it?

Arrived at the destination a remarkable thing happened.
Dimitri refused to charge for the ride.
The conversation had made him emotional.
Had brought him back to a time and a space where he hardly can get to anymore.
This sharing was obviously more important to him than the miserable 15 $ the taxi trip was costing.

His generosity was loudly applauded.
But discreetly a bill of 20 $ was left behind in the taxi for Dimitri to find later.
Because Russians and Poles, when they meet, they dance strange mazurkas.



Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That was one of the most beautiful and heart warming post I have read here. Thank you for sharing it with us.