“He’s my son. I will raise him, not her.”
I was consulting with a Fintech startup and had a meeting with the founders in Marina del Rey. The ride there was pleasant, but uneventful. The ride back, I met Fayeda.
She pulled up in a huge Toyota Highlander: She was so tiny, I could barely see her over the dashboard. I got in the front and she grinned at me.
I’m not sure how, but we started talking about food, and I went on and on about Singaporean food, my favorite. We then talked about holidays and travel. Fayeda had planned a huge road trip–she loved roadtrips–all across the country. The last time, she had gone with her sister and her family and it had been a blast, except her brother-in-law had hated the driving. In the end, he gave up, got on a flight, and met them at the end point.
Fayeda had immigrated to the US many years ago. My fault–I had forgotten to check her name on the app, and I couldn’t figure out where she was from by how she looked. She asked me to guess, and eventually I gave up after trying roughly half a dozen countries.
“Persia,” she said solemnly.
I was baffled. “You look Japanese.”
She laughed. “People from Persia come from all over. It could be. I might have Japanese blood.”
“Do you want to go back one day?” I asked.
“I go every so often because of my mother. But no, I don’t like it there. It’s restrictive. I moved here when I was sixteen. I started out in the East Coast with my sister, and then I took a plane to LA and this has been it. This is my home.”
Fayeda had one son. It was easy to see he was her pride and joy. “He’s really smart. He’s at UCLA now. He tells me everything. He’s the reason I moved from New Jersey to LA.”
“So you had him already when you were in New Jersey?”
“Yes. I moved because I didn’t like how my sister was telling him things.”
“Telling him things?”
“Like she was his mother! He’s my son. I will raise him, not her. She has her own children.”
Because of LA traffic, our ride took almost 90 minutes, so I learned about her routine. Fayeda worked very hard, and proclaimed herself “comfortably off, but wanting more.” She planned to start an Uber-driving business by buying more vehicles and leasing them out to drivers at fair rates.
At the end of the ride, she told me, “You came in with a huge smile, and I thought to myself, I like you. Maybe we will meet again–who knows?”
“I hope so,” I replied.
“Maybe at the Singaporean restaurant for curry,” she added, winking.
I truly enjoyed my conversation with her. It was one of my longest rides with a total stranger, and I didn’t feel it at all.
About the artist
Alexandra Burda is from Romania and currently lives in Helsinki, Finland. She loves traveling, people, animals, history, emotions and the wonderful world of imagination. If she were not an artist, she would like to work as a scientist, or a professional athlete. Some of her portfolio can be found at