A Sikh taxi driver has turned a racist cab fare experience into feeding the poor one a monthly basis in Darwin, Australia.
(Mar. 31, 2015): Tejinder Singh and his three family members save $1 each a day so they can spend the last Sunday of every month handing out kilos of rice and chickpeas from a van.
“When I see the people, I stop and say ‘you need food?'” Mr Singh said to 105.7 ABC Darwin.
The Singhs are migrants from Punjab, a region in India seen as the birthplace of the Sikh religion.
By day, Mr Singh works as an air conditioner mechanic on a skilled migrant visa, but by night he drives through Darwin’s streets in a taxi.
He occasionally encounters racism from cab customers due to the black turban worn for his religion.
In 2012, Mr Singh picked up a person who asked him which school in Darwin his children attended.
After Mr Singh replied, the person said he would send his kids to the same school as Mr Singh was not likely to bomb an establishment that his own children attended.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Singh launched his food van for the hungry in Darwin, to help the community to not be so afraid of his turban.
“Our religion says 10 per cent [of your income goes towards] the needy, poor, who need help, no matter if they follow your religion,” he said.
“I try to follow my religion.”
Darwin taxi driver’s monthly ritual
When the ABC visited the Singh family home last Sunday, Mr Singh had just finished cooking up 30kg of food for his monthly Sunday rounds.
He had been driving his cab the night before and had not slept before cooking up vats of chickpeas, rice and peas in his backyard.
“He worked all night and he didn’t sleep at all,” his wife Gurpreet Kaur said.
“It’s amazing how he does it. He drives for 12 hours in the night and then [spends] five hours cooking around a gas stove.”
Mr Singh and his 14-year-old son Navdeep Singh then hauled a few coolers of food into a van especially decorated for the occasion.
Mr Singh does not have a designated spot to hand out his Indian cuisine and sometimes spends several hours searching for people who might be hungry.
“Sometimes it’s very hard to find people,” he said.
The food mostly ends up in the stomachs of long grassers in Darwin’s northern suburbs, but Mr Singh said he does not discriminate.
“I want to help needy people. Anybody, no matter black, no matter white, no religion,” he said.
“If they are hungry, I will give them food.”