Tuk tuk Driver Ramzan

He never foresaw himself driving a tuk tuk.

Three years ago his business crashed. He was working in importing, with a small retail shop. “And I lost everything,” he says.

Now, he has turned to driving a tuk tuk for his livelihood, which he says he can make up to 3000 lkr a day on. At about $23 a day, that’s a handsome salary. (And coincidentally, about twice what I make). Petrol, however, eats up a significant portion of his income.

“But I don’t have much time” to be a driver, he says, “I need to study.” He began his career as a government servant, and then moved into business. Now, he’s getting a certificate to be a manager in the tourism industry from a Canadian institution.

Tuk tuk drivers are an interesting sort of people, if I can be allowed to stereotype   them. T-shirt wearing, little to no English skills, and quite a bit of paan chewing. It’s a low skill and very cutthroat job. Competition is fierce, and sometimes violent. We’ve been in tuk tuks where drivers have had public spats with others. (In one instance, our driver attempted to intimidate another tuk tuk driver off the road, and then stepped out of his tuk tuk in what could have easily become a brawl with the other driver, as our tuk tuk kept rolling.)

Ramzan is different. His appearance is put together. He wears slacks, a button down, and a watch. He carries a nice phone and his facial hair is cropped nicely into the many scruff you see many fashion models sporting. What really sticks out is his command of English—which the first time S and I rode with him, he said was “poor.” I beg to differ—the English when he next is exquisite, none of the hi, how ru” stuff.

In other news, our refrigerator is broken and repairmen came today to fix it. This is a task that Ramzan, in another life, could have done. Seeking to add another string to his bow, he said he once got a certificate in refrigeration repair. “I know the theory, but can’t do that practice.”

On a metaphysical level, the routes in which our actions in circumstances take us in life are interesting. What’s the difference between a refrigeration repairman, government servant, tuk tuk driver and a successful businessman?

In the future, he hopes to open a business in Dubai, in the tourism sector. I wish him all the best.