On Friday I made the last mark on the tally chart next to my desk, ending the count down to the Easter holidays. To celebrate I decided to remind myself what a tree looks like, and left my flat in the centre of town for a break in the countryside. Catching a taxi to the train station, I had a very entertaining conversation with a Pakistani driver.
According to the Pakistani kids at my school, this driver would qualify as ‘fresh’, a term given to recent arrivals to the city’s Pakistani community, short for ‘fresh off the boat’. Once in the taxi, he asked me what my job was. On hearing I was a history teacher, he responded ‘Good. Good. Respectable profession’. I warmed to him instantly.
He then started to tell me how teachers are different in Pakistan, to those in England. He said that when a group of pupils see their teacher in Pakistan, they instantly start to behave: ‘teacher is coming, teacher is coming!’ He impersonated. Not so in England though, ‘English children are very cheeky to teachers’ he observed. ‘Don’t I know it’ was my response.
I asked the taxi driver whether he had children, and he told me that he had two boys currently attending the local school. This was said with some regret, so I asked him whether he is pleased with life in England. ‘I want my boys to grow up in England’ he responded, ‘but I want them to go to school in Pakistan.’
I told him I entirely understood, and added that by the sounds of it I would probably prefer to teach in Pakistan as well.