I’ve been catching taxis around Auckland. It’s only got a population of 1.3 million but it sprawls for miles, divided by a bay and it seems to take hours to get anywhere. Yesterday I spent over 100 dollars on taxis and I felt sick, even though it wasn’t my money.
This morning’s taxi driver took me a shortcut way down a steep, narrow street. “That’s my Church over there.” he said. “I’m a born-again Christian but it’s hard. I keep slipping.” “How long have you been born-again?” I asked. “Since 1990. But like I said, I still slip up. It’s hard to always think What would Jesus do?” “Yes, it must be.” “My pastor says that God is forgiving, though, so long as I’m trying. He also said that I’m a Healer.” We turned left, past a park. “Really?” “Yeah. I cried when he told me… I didn’t believe it.” We stopped at a pedestrian crossing. “So I decided to test it out. I was at my friend’s house. Her husband has asthma, so I prayed for him and I said to God God, if you really want me to be a Healer, then show me by healing this man.” “Did it work?” “Yeah it worked! Three months later my friend called me and said, “My husband has thrown away his asthma pump. He says he doesn’t need it anymore.”
We turned onto the freeway. “The best bit about our Church is the band. We sing songs, play guitar. People write their own songs.” “Really?” “I wrote one. I wrote the words and then asked God to help me with the tune. He told me to use the theme song from Prisoner. You know that show? It’s Australian.” “Yes, I know it.” “I can sing you my song if you like. Do you want me to?” “Sure.” As he sang I watched a group of school kids getting on a bus.
Afterwards was a little apologetic. “It’s only a short song. I said to God Is that all? Shouldn’t it be a longer song than that? And God said No, that’s enough for now.” “I guess He knows best about these things.”
He dropped me off and wrote a receipt. “What’s your name?” he said. “Meredith.” “I’ll pray for you, Meredith.” He said. “Thanks.” I said. “That’d be great.”
I’m in Auckland. Just until Friday. On the flight over I sat near a couple travelling with their grandson. The grandmother was young – definitely a Gran rather than a Grannie. Yellow capri pants. White polo shirt. Cornflower-blue scarf around her neck. The grandson was sitting, on his own, in front of her. Sixteenish. Listening to his ipod. Just before takeoff the grandmother lent over and tapped him on the shoulder. “Your first flight!” she said. “Mmm.” “Don’t be nervous now, will you?” She squeezed his shoulder. “There’s absolutely nothing to be scared of. Flying is safer than driving.” “Mmm.” “Are your ears blocked? I have some lollies to suck on if you would like one.” The grandson shook his head. The grandmother popped a barley sugar in her mouth and settled back in her seat with her eyes shut, one hand gripping the arm rest, the other holding her husband’s hand.
The flight itself was uneventful. I had the fish. The guy on my left had the beef and ate rapidly from left to right, like a locust moving through a field. The woman on my right ate more randomly, her fork jumping from bean, to rice to fish chunk.
As we started the descent the grandmother tapped her grandson again. “This is the funnest part, darling!” she said. “Uh huh.” “But it can be a bit bumpy, so you should brace yourself against the seat ahead of you.” The grandson looked at her blankly.
When we came into land he remained in the same position, staring straight ahead, listening to his ipod. His gran, however, braced herself, arms folded across her forehead and body tilted against the back of her grandson’s seat.