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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Taxi driver: New York
Taxi drivers know the streets of the world's great cities better than anyone. The BBC has spoken to five of them around the world about their work, their city and the problems they face.

Here, the BBC's Matt Wells takes a taxi with Narinder Deol, a member of New York's Asian community - a great number of whom are now employed driving the city's famous yellow cabs.

New York
Yellow cabs are an integral part of New York
The first thing Narinder shows me is his vehicle identification number.

If it is not on display, you cannot drive a yellow cab - it is that simple.

"If they catch you driving without this - even if you have it in your pocket - they'll give a summons," he explains.

Narinder is from northern India. He has been in the US since 1981.

Narinder explains that the pay is the primary attraction of cab driving.

"This is a job where at least you make a living," he says. "At least you cover your bills."

Running the city

Narinder is a Sikh, and always wears his turban and long, flowing beard behind the wheel.

But after the 9/11 attacks, this, coupled with his Asian origin, led to some bad misunderstandings as outraged New Yorkers vented their misplaced anger.

"It's happened to me three times," he said.

Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi taxi drivers run the city
Gurinder Singh
"People attacked me, called me names, told me to go back to my country.

"You have to hold your anger back, and then you tell them that you are not that guy.

"We went on TV, we went on radio, to show them that we are not Muslims, we are Sikhs."

Narinder has his lunch at the India House restaurant in mid-town Manhattan. The restaurant is owned by Gurinder Singh, himself a former yellow cab driver.

Mr Singh said he was very proud of the work the Asian cab drivers do.

"Without the yellow cabs, New York City is handicapped," he said.

"Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi taxi drivers run the city.

"I give good food and good service for my yellow cab drivers. They're the people that keep the city going."

Narinder works long hours, usually seven days a week.

"You have to get up early in the morning, about three or four o'clock, to get ready to go to work.

"Only after six, until nine or ten, do I get to see my children at home."

Hard day

Late in the afternoon, Narinder hands the cab over to its owner, Javinder Singhrai, who drives the night shift.

Mr Singhrai says cab driving in New York can be a frustrating business.

"Some people don't want to pay you," he says.

"This is a problem."

He said that there was usually very little point in calling the police in such instances, as they would not come straight away.

Narinder, meanwhile, is just glad his shift is over.

"It's a very hard day.

"There are no jobs in this city. Today was very slow. But I'll be back here tomorrow at dawn to do the same thing again."

Diol, New York cab driver
"This is a job where at least you make a living"


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