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Sikh Female Taxi Driver In Glasgow

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Sikh female taxi driver in Glasgow

MUM-OF-FIVE, who loves her punters' banter, is helping break down barriers and social stereotypes.WHEN passengers hop in to Balwinder Singh's taxi, they are pleasantly surprised - if a bit shocked - to see her smiling back at them from the driver's seat.This is because the mother of five is the only female Asian taxi driver in the city of Glasgow.Every time Balwinder gets behind the wheel, she is helping to break down barriers and turn stereotypes on their head.And she is particularly proud of her job because her beloved dad Kuldeep Singh - known as John - was the city's first Asian Hackney driver four decades ago.Proud Scot Balwinder, who has a brother and sister, told Record Woman: "Now it is my turn to follow in his footsteps and I feel proud and a bit overwhelmed. My dad came from India when he was two and then moved to Ireland."He spoke Gaelic and worked in the potato fields."Then he came back to Glasgow when he was about 10 and stayed in Pollokshields, where I grew up."My mum Raj was living in Leeds and came to Glasgow in her 20s and married my dad."Dad worked on the buses as a driver. I remember he cut his hair to do that job because back then they wouldn't let Sikh men drive with their turban on."Then he became the first Asian black cab driver in Glasgow."We used to clean his taxi when we were kids. My sister and I got 10p for doing it and my brother got 50p - because he was a boy."He used to pick us up at secondary school and we would brag to our pals that we were getting a taxi home. But we never said the driver was our dad. I grew up in a Hackney because of my dad."Family and tradition are very important to 46-year-old Balwinder, who lost both her parents eight years ago.She is known to friends as Paula and she still wears a necklace with that name on it, which her mother made for her 30th birthday.Making the decision to break with tradition and drive a taxi when her husband of 28 years, Raj, took ill was a tough one.Raj, 48, was driving for city-based Network Private Hire when he suffered a health setback - and it was him who encouraged Balwinder to get her taxi licence and start with the firm.Balwinder, who doesn't work past 9pm, said: "When we got married, Raj was a head chef, then a bus driver for 12 years."Then he joined Network but he had to give it up because of a health issue."Now he is my navigator and hotline number. He has always respected me and supported me and he told me to apply for my badge."He told me it would be safe and I would be picking up mostly women - grannies and mums with children."Raj threw me in at the deep end and, at the start, I was nervous and scared about picking up passengers."They would get in and say, Sauchiehall Street'."I would know where it was but not how to get to it - but the passengers were great about it."She started getting her first hires back in November 2012 and is now totally at ease behind the wheel, enjoying the punters' banter."I love being Scottish and I love Glasgow. Passengers say they can talk to me and get a positive vibe from me."A guy said to me once, Is your man in bed and he sent you out to drive his taxi?' - I just laughed."The girls tell me that they feel comfortable, safe and relaxed in my taxi and the older ladies want to adopt me."They tell me not to work late at night because they'll worry about me."Other Asian women who get in say they are impressed that I drive a taxi. They are pleasantly surprised because I am married."The reaction is positive and this makes me keen to do the job and do it better."I feel I am breaking down barriers and boundaries. And my children are proud of what I do.

Source - http://www.punjaboutlook.com/3412-sikh-female-taxi-driver-in-glasgow.html

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