SINGAPORE : When primary school teacher Syarinah Sani chose Mar 13 as her wedding day, it was not because the numbers looked somewhat nice.
The 28-year-old had a practical reason: It was the March holidays and the first day after the end of the school term.
So when the question of whether the couple needed a wedding car cropped up, Ms Syarinah again thought practically.
“We were only looking at one wedding venue, so we didn’t feel the need for a wedding car,” she told CNA over the phone on Wednesday (Apr 21).
But she still needed someone to ferry her from her parents’ place to the wedding venue, and to another location for a photoshoot afterwards.
Up stepped her cabby uncle Abdul Aziz Talibak, 51, who offered to drive her around in his ComfortDelGro taxi for the day.
After all, Mr Aziz had been helping out with the wedding planning and transporting his niece’s items to her new home.
Ms Syarinah knew that her uncle wanted to make her day as hassle-free as possible, so she took up his offer “without much thought”.
“He was very excited also and he was trying to see where he could help,” she said. “But I didn’t expect that he would dress his cab up and spend money out of his own pocket to make it our wedding car for the day.”
Mr Aziz only told his niece a few days before the big day, when she was knee deep in her preparations, that he would be decorating the taxi. “I wanted to make it a surprise,” he said.
When Mr Aziz finally sent his niece photos of the spruced up taxi, she said she was “happily surprised”.
“I’ve never seen flowers on a cab before,” Ms Syarinah said. “I found it very cute the way it was decked out.”
Indeed, a Facebook post on the episode, uploaded on ComfortDelGro’s official page on Tuesday, has attracted a very positive response, with more than 3,400 reactions and 1,800 shares.
Many netizens praised the simple yet heartwarming gesture and sent well wishes to the bride and groom. “Nice to see this … so unique and special to have taxi as a wedding car,” one wrote.
Mr Aziz, who has been driving with ComfortDelGro since 2011, agreed.
“Why must we rent a car outside?” he asked. “We might as well use a taxi as it’s special. For a long time nobody has used a taxi as a wedding car.”
Furthermore, Mr Aziz knew that the wedding, held amid the pandemic, would be a cosy affair with 100 guests. “It’s a simple one, so why not use a taxi,” he said.
To ensure that he was not breaking regulations, Mr Aziz asked ComfortDelGro for permission. The company was agreeable and forwarded his request to the Land Transport Authority.
This is because the taxi would be used for personal reasons, and the wedding decorations would make this fact even more obvious.
The authority gave the green light, Mr Aziz said, on the condition that the decorations did not compromise safety, such as by blocking his mirrors.
Mr Aziz got to work. He gave his Hyundai Ioniq hybrid cab a good wash and vacuum. And then on Mar 12, a day before the wedding, he went to Joo Chiat Complex to get the cab decorated.
He chose white for the ribbons and flowers and kept the design simple, knowing that his niece would want it this way.
Then as he was about to head home, he decided to pick up passengers from the Geylang Serai market taxi stand. “I thought, why not,” he said.
The passengers said “wow” and that the decorations were “fantastic”, Mr Aziz said. “Of course they were surprised,” he added, laughing. “They were the first passengers to take my decorated taxi.”
THE WEDDING DAY
On Mar 13, Mr Aziz started his day nice and early by fetching his niece from her parents’ place in Jurong to the wedding venue in Bukit Timah Plaza.
The wedding guests were “quite surprised” to see the taxi, Mr Aziz said. “Never before have they seen a taxi being used as a wedding car,” he said.
Mr Aziz made a few trips to and from the venue to fetch other relatives, when it started raining heavily. This meant that the couple’s outdoor photo shoot had to be cancelled.
Ms Syarinah and her husband ended up taking photos around the venue, including some with the taxi, although she wished she had taken one with her uncle and his car.
“We wanted to get a better picture of the cab also, because he spent so much time on it,” she said.
“But because of the weather, and we were honestly very, very tired after the wedding, it was very difficult to get a good photo of the car.”
Mr Aziz waited for an hour or so with this taxi so that he could send the newlyweds back to their new home.
“He just patiently waited, he didn’t even complain about it,” Ms Syarinah said. “I know he was just as tired because he fetched me in the morning. But he didn’t complain.”
LOVE FOR HIS NIECES
Mr Aziz’s generosity stems from his desire to want the best for his nieces. He had even offered to drive Ms Syarinah to school every day.
“This is part and parcel of life, because I don’t have any kids,” Mr Aziz said. “I look at her as my kid also, why not I help? It’s nothing for me. I love my niece very much.”
To help cabbies during these tough times, Mr Aziz suggested that ComfortDelGro consider renting out its cabs and drivers to be used for weddings.
“If people want to save money, why not use taxis as their wedding cars,” he said.
Ms Syarinah said it never crossed her mind that guests might perceive the gesture as a cheap act, especially as some couples spend big to rent a lavish wedding car.
“To me, it’s just as valuable because it is still a form of transport. It still does the same thing, you know, it runs on gas,” she mused.
In fact, Ms Syarinah said the gesture made it more meaningful as it was her uncle’s thought that counts.
“Even if he were to do it with a normal car, or anything else, it will still be the same,” she added. “I will still feel the same way.”
“SOMETHING THAT I WON’T FORGET”
This sentiment is shared by Ms Syarinah’s husband Fahrul Razi Kamsani, 29, whom she described as a “very chill guy” who is practical and not materialistic.
“He was grateful that my uncle offered, because it honestly lessened our logistical needs like to liaise with another party, fork out a bit of money to rent and also to decorate,” she said.
Mr Aziz said he is “very happy” that the couple appreciated his gesture, highlighting that he kept a flower from the car decoration in his living room as a memento.
Ms Syarinah said the episode was something to be proud of.
“Because it just shows how much he thinks of me as his niece,” she said, adding that this was something she “cannot replicate”.
“It is also a very priceless, very precious memory that I will not forget. It is something very small, simple to others. But to me, it’s like something that I won’t forget.”
By : Aqil Haziq Mahmud – CNA