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Tsim Booky speaks to Neos Kosmos

The face of the week explains why he chose to troll Australian media by changing his name

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17 February 2017

If you are Greek, you probably know that 'tsimbooky' is the slang term for fellatio.

Imagine seeing a Greek taxi driver all over national TV going by that name. At first it was hard to understand whether it was some sick joke or a typo but it turns out Giannis from Kalamata knew exactly what he was doing.

"Australian media had it coming. For quite some time now, not only have they not been reporting on our requests but they make fun of us and our protests," he told Neos Kosmos.

Last Monday, a convoy of cabbies complaining they are at breaking point and at risk of losing their homes drove slowly across the Bolte Bridge after the Victorian government made the decision to shake up the taxi industry.

Taxis caused traffic pain during peak hour on Monday as a convoy drove slowly across the bridge in protest against the government's decision to deregulate the taxi industry and introduce a single registration for taxis, hire cars and ride-share services such as Uber.

Drivers were urged by the Victorian Taxi and Hire Car Families committee to cause gridlock and, as expected, Channels 7 and 9 were there to report live.

At some point they gave the microphone to a Greek Australian taxi driver to voice his union's complaints.

"I didn't think about it much and I listed my name as Tsim Booky," he says.

"Some were quick to judge and argue that I'm embarrassing the Greek community and my colleagues. People who know me however, call me 'the funny bloke' for my snarky and cynical sense of humour."

Minutes after the name appeared on television, screenshots of Giannis' face broke the internet all the way from Australia to Greece and the diaspora across the globe.

Hundreds of comments the likes of "Great! Another smart*ss giving Greece a bad name, exactly what we needed", "Greek cabbie trolls Australian TV", "another proud moment of Greek diaspora hits the small screen" took over social media and TV shows, but 'Tsim Booky' is not deterred.

"Currently the government is seizing our licences for zero in return. They [the government] will pay us $100,000 for the licence and $50,000 for up to three others when we've paid up to $500,000 per licence.

"Many families are being led into financial ruin and we are constantly being mocked by the media, or ignored. Thanks to my ridiculous alias, our complaints are being heard. I was angry at the TV channels who up to this day have not been doing much other than to interview old Greek Australian cab drivers whose English is poor and edit the conversation to make us all look like fools, like we don't know what we are talking about.
"Like I said, they had it coming. It was my way to make fun of them, while getting more on-air time to actually talk about our dire predicament. I don't regret what I did."

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