Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Tale of Taxi Drivers

"Setchnto, A Tale of Ethiopian Cab Drivers in America" P.257 Have you ever thought of what life is like for taxi drivers? Do they find their job tough or easy? What sort of incidents would they encounter? Perhaps the people who are in a best position to respond to these questions are the taxi drivers themselves. Unfortunately, most taxi drivers don't write and most writers don't write about taxi drivers. We must have missed tales and accounts from the front seat that otherwise would have been an interesting and refreshing read. However, the new Amharic book by Birhane moges, ' Setchnto, A Tale of Ethiopian Cab Drivers in America" is an exception. Sethchnto is an Italian word for sixty and that how taxis were known in this country ever since their coming form Italy, carrying that model number. The author himself a taxi driver in New York City listened to tales told by his friends and acquaintances and wrote this vastly entertaining work, connecting themes of belonging in America, immigrant experience, and multiculturalism. With rare sense of humor and honesty, this book shows us that taxi driving in America (probably anywhere) is more than a job; it is a life style and a medium of expression. But also one of the hardest and the most risky profession. Ethiopians who are driving taxi in major American cities have the toughest of jobs, working twelve hours shifts, for not much more than the minimum wage. They are harassed by police and passengers and are subject to stiff fines for minor offences. But it is not a bitter book, rather a highly entertaining tale focusing on funny incidents of the taxi drivers. It is not a big-statement book - it doesn't have the intellectual heft of a 'globalization and immigration' study kind of work. But in a sophisticated, breezy way, it does pose 'Is it worth it?' question for those of us who are dreaming nothing but America.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sei cento = 600 as in FIAT model 600

5/22/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have a Ph.D. like some of my peers but I just came home from similar work. I need a wife but the setelatte's call me 'gari nejjie' even though I graduated from same school a few decades ago before the girls I ask to marry me did. I was garie nejie since I came here but my sister and her husband forced me to go to school again because I used to be good in school when I was a kid. I worked only for a year in mesriyabet and then I missed my siechento. BTW I've paid my student loan in full. Find me abesha wife or I'll marry a foreign girl that will never call me garie gefie and will have weird looking kids waving Ethiopian flag at community gatherings and concerts a few years from now. Consider yourself warned!

Thank you for remembering us. And Berhanu Moges is gonna be like Berhane Mewa and Berhanu Negga for me from now on. Thanx again.

5/22/2006 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger elias said...

Where can I get this book?

2/21/2012 03:41:00 AM  
Blogger elias said...

Where can I get this book?

2/21/2012 03:41:00 AM  

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