Tonight's fare of the night was a man in his 30s who approached my cab at 3 AM while I was waiting at one of my "strategic spots" in Greenwich Village. (A "strategic spot" is a certain place where I may just sit in my cab in order to "fish" for a fare when it is slow on the streets.) He came up to my window and asked me if I knew where a certain club was located (I think he called it the "Orchid Club".) I had never heard of it, so he elaborated by telling me it was a club for transsexuals.
I knew there was such a place just a couple of blocks north of where I was sitting, so I told him its location and, when I mentioned that there was always a "trannie" sitting on a stool out in front of the joint, it rang a bell with him and he was sure that was, indeed, the place he was looking for. I thought he would just walk off but instead, perhaps feeling guilty that I wasn't going to profit by being honest and helpful, he asked if I could drive him there. That was fine with me so he jumped in and we went for what amounted to merely a ride around the block.
Now what was interesting about this guy was that he mentioned that he was from Turkey. I know that Turkey is a Muslim country so right away the idea that a Muslim man would be going to a transsexual club struck me as fascinating. I had already gained his confidence by not invalidating him due to his choice of night clubs, so we could speak frankly. And we did.
He told me that he was, in fact, a Muslim, but (obviously) a moderate one. And this led to a discussion of which Muslim countries in the world would tolerate the presence of transsexuals. He said only in his own country, Lebanon, and Indonesia could such a thing be found. Morocco, he said, was liberal but not that liberal. Everywhere else - Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc, etc - forget about it. He went on to say that Turkey was by far the most moderate Muslim country in the world and that is why it is one of America's most important allies. An interesting thought.
With so much attention in the news these days about fanatical Muslims it was encouraging to me to meet someone who can consider himself to be of that religion but not feel compelled by it. Obviously this was a person who thinks for himself. In his own way, a breath of fresh air, in my opinion.