Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I now understand so much...

Kelly and I hopped in a cab the other night and asked the cabbie to take us to Whitty Street. We pronounced it the typical American way - “Whiddy” Street. The cabbie was completely befuddled (and a little pissed off) until we handed him a map and pointed out where we wanted to go. “Oh! WHIT-tee Street!” And he proceeded to instruct us on the proper way to pronounce all of the roads we were passing. This was helpful, as we’re trying to improve our Cantonese. But then things got…strange.

First was his monologue on (we think) the difference between animals (for some reason he focused primarily on pigs - complete with pig noises) and people. It went something like this:

“Animal sleep-eat-f**k-sleep-f**k-f**k-eat! Person sleep-eat-f**k…THINK.”

Okay, we can agree on that.

Next came something like this: “You American. Next life, I Spanish, I Chinese, We same!”

Okay, all people are the same inside. I can get behind that.

Then it gets a little scary (it’s important to keep in mind that while he’s giving us this philosophical diatribe he’s getting more and more excited and paying less and less attention to the road so that he can make eye contact with us in the rearview mirror and punctuate his most important points with violent hand gestures):

“My father, if he calls right now and says I kill you, I need to know REASON.”


Apparently this had something to do with the ignorance of people who haven’t had education, and rampant xenophobia in people over a certain age. I mean, that’s what we hope it meant. Because now he’s driving faster and faster and talking about killing us, and we’re just hoping he gets us to our destination without doing so (but he said he needed a REASON!).

The tirade continues, but degenerates into something about the Danish Mohammed cartoon controversy, which we can’t figure out the cabbie’s stance on.

We finally arrive at our destination and attempt to get out, but he keeps talking and won’t unlock the doors. Finally he lets us out, but rolls down the window so he can make one more point. Then one more. Then another. Bystanders gather to listen to the harangue. We both shake his hand, several times, then he belatedly pulls away and we’re left stunned and confused.

But at least now we know how to say “road” in Cantonese. *

* Actually, I forgot how to say "road" once he started talking about killing us. But at least I can pronounce Whitty Street correctly.

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