I picked him up from a train station in South Auckland I had never been to before. He was youngish, maybe thirties. It was his first time in that area too, as he lived a lot closer to the city. His partner had found a baby carriage/pram for their baby at an online auction and they got it for a good price. They didn’t have a car to pick it up and thought the train looked reasonable. Including the Uber ride from the train station, it had already taken him more than an hour.
We found the place, no problem, and he’d asked me to wait, which I did happily. Once he realised how big the baby carriage was he reconsidered the long ride back to the city on the train. He checked the app, saw how much it was, and said “Okay, I’m going to swap out the payment method so my missus doesn’t see that I took the Uber” I laughed and said “Would you be in trouble?”
“Oh yeah” I laughed, and he sorted out the app. He settled in for the ride, and we started chatting. at first, it was all the regular stuff – what do you do, where are you from, why do you have an accent? Then we started discussing internet rabbit holes and he said “I’ve got one – have you heard of the Sami people?” I started laughing and asked “Are you into Joik?” and he said “How did you know?”
I told him that I had lived in Finland, and had worked in a roundabout way for the national carrier, Finnair. I said that in the 1990’s there had been a brief moment of Joik cool in NYC, as we had helped host a concert. He asked me who it was, and I apologised as I did not remember his name. He asked me if it were a fellow named Jon Henrik. I wasn’t sure, but we started listening in the car together. He was too young for the NYC concert, but he is such a unique singer – originally from South America, adopted by Sami parents.
Here is some really old school joik from back in the day:
The Sami people are spread across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia – largely nomadic reindeer herders. The chanting, and rhythmic music is part of their oral history. Sitting in the car, with a young Kiwi fellow, humming along seemed to me to be the best and highest ideal of globalisation. He tells me that his partner is from Thailand and she digs the Sami music too. I ask him how long until the new occupant of the carriage arrives. “A few weeks” he said “Not long now” I smiled and told him he was going to be a great dad.
I finally dropped him and his new babymobile off at his place. We’d had an awesome and unlikely ride together. Life is full of surprises. Good ones, pretty often.