Cab driver finds lasting friendship

Danzel as a baby with James in 2002.

FRIENDSHIP starts in different ways in various settings and circumstances. Here is a tale of how a Port Moresby city cab driver first encountered an airline pilot and his expatriate wife who became regular clients and close friends.
From their very first meeting they built on their relationship through regular meetings and finally ended up becoming good friends and family up to the present .
Their relationship started from the first meeting more than 18 years ago.
James Paka, 52, hails from Kongambil Village in Banz, Jiwaka and had been working as a city bus and taxi driver since he was a young man. He recently gave an account of how he first came to meet a man and his wife.
On that day in 2001 he was, as usual for a cab driver, looking out for a client pick up. He happened to meet a Papua New Guinean accompanied by an expatriate woman who were stopping him for a ride near a city hospital.
According to James, who is now as a small business owner operating several buses and Nanga Taxi Service, he was stopped by the couple outside the Paradise Hospital that day.
James said when he picked up the couple they told him to drive towards Korobosea. While driving along, James was a little fascinated by the expatriate woman accompanying his client so he asked him if the woman was his wife and his client said yes.
Then James asked where he was from and to his amazement his client said he was a fellow from Jiwaka and his name was Raphael and his wife was Angela, an Australian.
James was shocked and amazed because he himself was also a Jiwaka man. James thought at first that the man was from another part of PNG but when he said he was from Jiwaka, James felt glad that he was driving a wantok and his wife. During their brief conversation, Raphael said he was from Minj and belonged to the Konumpka tribe.
James then told the couple that he was from Banz and was a Senglap tribesman. Raphael said he worked for Airlines PNG and lived at Korobosea with his wife. When James heard this he was happy and excited as he knew he was in the company of a fellow Jiwaka man and his wife.
As soon as they drove up to the couple’s home at Korobosea, the couple got off thanking James for the company.
But before James was to drive off the couple told him to hang on for a few minutes so that they could give Angela’s phone number to him in exchange for his number so that whenever they were in need for a cab service they could simply call up James for their family convenience, business and outings.
So they proposed how they would go about with arrangements in future through phone contacts.
James left Raphael and Angela but was pleased that he had met two important persons who he knew would be good friends in the future and trusted customers for his taxi service business.
After their meeting, before James went away, Raphael gave him K10 to top up his mobile mobile phone credits in oreder to give his wife a call to check up on her condition from time to time as Angela was pregnant and expecting their first baby in a short while.
Hospital runs
The trio still maintained phone contact from time to time and James picked up or dropped off Raphael’s wife to and at shopping centers, offices and the hospital for medical check-ups.
At the time James met Raphael and his wife, Angela who was into her last couple of months of pregnancy.
As a pilot Raphael hardly had free time to be with his wife to drive her to and fro for shopping, clinic runs and other errands so the job fell into the hands of James the taxi driver to to take on from time to time.
When Angela had about a week before the delivery, she and Raphael decided that their faithful friend would spend a week at their family home at Airlines PNG compound in Korobosea.
That was so that in an emergency, James could drive Angela to hospital in time for medical attention.
So it was that the friendship that started sometime in 2001 from a meeting of a cab driver and clients deepened with the kind couple even inviting James over to spend a week at their home, which was rare for James.
Few days after James went to live with his two friends, Angela was having pre-delivery pains so James quickly rushed her to the hospital and she gave birth to a son who was later named Danzel.
James met Raphael and Angela in November 2001 and about five months later Danzel was born on March 28, 2002. The friendship continued for James and Raphael’s family but then Raphael was transferred to Cairns for a job assignment. As real friends, though Raphael and Angela were away in Cairns with their family, they still maintained contact with James through WhatsApp.
James said that when the family had gone down south he decided not to drive a taxi anymore and gave his car to another driver and drove a PMV bus instead.
In 2008, James wished to explore a part of Australia and asked Raphael and Angela if they could make arrangements for his travel down to Cairns for a visit and sightseeing.
The family agreed and got everything done and in order for him. James was glad when jos friends made his dream become a reality. He visited the family in Cairns for two weeks in September 2008.
James catches up with Danzel
Now here is the interesting part of Raphael, Angela and James’ story. The baby who was in Angela’s womb at the time when the couple met James was to catch up with him – as an 18-year-old.
Danzel Kome recently graduated from the Saint Augustine College, Cairns after completing his year 12 studies.
Among those present at Danzel’s grade 12 graduation was James- the man who ensured he (Danzel) was delivered at the right time at Port Moresby’s Paradise Hospital on March 28, 2002.
A proud and happy James says being a taxi driver has its share of blessings.
He came across both good and bad things in his time as a cab driver.
However, he felt privileged to have come into contact with Raphael and Angela as they have helped him out in countless ways through their long journey of well-cemented friendship.

  • Paul Minga is a freelance writer.