On most days a bit after 5 I’d take that short walk up Ross Street, turn left at Clarendon and walk towards tram stop 127. Tram 12 takes a few minutes to arrive to take a hoard of workers into town. The tram heads to Victoria Gardens but I get off at Collins/Spencer and walk up to Southern Cross station to take the commuter train out east.
Yesterday however, Tram 12 didn’t show. It was blowie, a bit warm and I have had a long day so I didn’t feel like walking into town. A cab showed up before long and I hailed it down. I invited the colleague I had met at the tram stop to jump in that cab with me. It turned out to be very informative ride.
The cabbie casually asked if I was catching the sky bus into the airport. It must have been the suit I was wearing. And that big backpack. I said no, just suburban train back home and I asked if he was a Punjabi, thinking we could have a quick conversation about faith, as the Sikh temple in Blackburn is often a talking point. He said he was a Pakistani. I said that means he is unlikely a Sikh and more likely a Muslim. He said he was a Muslim. He wasn’t interested in religion however and in a flash, he started talking about Chinese investments in Pakistan.
The Chinese Pakistan Economic Corridor is a 50+ billion-dollar infrastructure project. It takes one from Gwadar, purportedly one of the deepest ports of the world and a Pakistani gateway to the Arabian Sea and beyond, deep into western China in the regions of the Uighurs in Xinjiang. I listened with great curiosity as no one had ever told me about the “CPEC” with such passionate enthusiasm. I said to him it sounded like a modern day silk road and he nodded vigorously at me to signal his approval that this oriental gets it as he continued talking about how the Americans and Indians hate this project but the Iranians and Afghans love it.
This morning I had been working for a couple of hours when that colleague who was in that cab with me, got in and we chatted for a bit. She asked if I looked up CPEC as I promised the cabbie I would. I said I did and she said she too, jumped on Google last night and checked it out.
I had said to the cabbie, just before I alighted from his cab, that there was a reason why Tram 12 didn’t show up and I had to take his cab. It was so I know about CPEC. That cab fare was worth every cent.