When I proudly showed some postings to my family members and friends, they asked excitedly, ‘Tell me, are all the characters in your stories based on real people? I couldn't answer their question immediately. Instead, I told them the story of a young Vietnamese girl who wanted to commit suicide in my cab and an old man who had lost his taxi driver son. And also told them that these two characters did not called me to say "Hey, that wasn’t very nice of you to write about me!" What I'm trying to say is that these two characters in my stories appeared only once in my life.
You see, I never pick the same passenger twice. It's one in a million change that a taxi driver would pick the same passenger again on a separate trip. Therefore, it's impossible to verify whether my characters are based on real people or not. However, characters like my wonderful grandmother and the trumpet making friend are real and can be verified because I've tangible evidences, like photos and name cards. You see my point now?
So are my characters based on real people? Certainly yes, for though I have a crystal clear memory, it still needs reality as the start off point to write a story. But often, instead of being based on specific persons I have met, my characters—ordinary men and women who go about their daily lives -- are a composite of these real persons, created to fit in with each story.
But at base, all of them are recognizable human types because they display recognizable human qualities—of greed, hypocrisy, small-mindedness, cowardice, etc on the one hand, and magnanimity, generosity, kindness, courage, etc on the other.
Sometimes inside my cab, I meet complete strangers who tell me about their experiences, some quite astonishing, And I say mischievously, ‘You will be a character in my next blog posting, I hope you don't mind!’