I had only 45 minute with me and the Google maps showed , 37 min from my location to the Lincoln Avenue. Based on my past experiences I shuddered to rely on my navigation skills and hauled a cab.Though it can burn a hole in your pockets, but always better than getting late. The cab driver greeted me and asked about my well being. I was in such a hurry that I had skipped the breakfast, had guzzled down a small glass of orange juice only. So I started eating the banana and the yogurt that I had with me. Driver asked me if I am vegan. I said No, but vegetarian. He said he lives near the Indian community of Chicago and there are many veg restaurants if I want to try. I asked him if he was talking about Devon avenue. he answered was affirmative. I told him that I am from India only.He was very pleased to hear this and told me that he is from Somalia and eats Indian food all the time. He told me about the uncountable number of Indian movies he has seen. He likes Indian movies, not the western ones. He told me that 15-20 % of the Somalian culture derives its roots from Indian culture and till few years ago, almost all the females of his land draped themselves in Saree, which is the authentic and indigenous Indian attire for females.All women dress according to muslim standards nowadays, wear hijab and burqas. He told me that Somalia is 99 % Shia Muslims. I asked him the difference between Shias and Sunnis, he himself was not very sure. I have read this difference once or twice but I always forget.
The words such as roti, gaadi are common in both languages.I told him that these words are not from Hindi but from middle eastern languages and have been used since ages for the meting of cultural pots in Indian plains.
Old Hindi movies are accepted in Somalia because they are good for entertainment and also there is minimum physical contact between male and female actors . This reminded me of the old movies in which hero is running behind the girl in a garden and the kissing scenes are obviated by showing two intertwined buds , flowers or 2 birds in vicinity. This reminds me of all the scenes in old hindi movies portraying the first night after the wedding in which the light would just go off signifying passion .
Anyway, Hindi movies are quite debatable . I should not digress.
This affection towards old hindi movies for a reason gave me some points about the society in Somalia. He told me that if you like a girl, you send your parents to their house asking for proposal rather than doing everything by yourself .
I was trying hard which movie I have seen is based on Somalia and it struck me suddenly that it was Black Hawk Down by Ridley Scott and also Captain Phillips starring Tom Hanks. I told him so and inquired about the rule of Mohd Farrah Aidid. He gave me some quick facts about his rule, the civil war in Somalia, how 18 regions have fought over a period of time with each other and how they are trying to bring their country towards a democratic election. He told me that everyone carries a gun there for safety purpose. I shuddered at the thought.
He then asked me if I think Manmohan Singh will win the election this time. I chuckled at this. This man driving me to Lincoln av, is surely has decent general knowledge.
What I liked about him was despite all of such problems he loved his country and is planning to go back to meet his relatives and his friends there whom he left 20 years ago.
Sometimes you just gain the knowledge from someone you expect least.
BTW : One should always be politically correct, I had an instance when I was sharing a cab with a girl and the driver was a Palestinian. The mention of Yaseer Arafat made him go bonkers and he was willing to let go off the cab fare if we disembarked his cab instantly.