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Monday, October 12, 2009

Today is Chinese Nationals' Day

This day was an unusual one, "Ni hau, war yeow chi Neu Cher Sway" as this petite chinese young lady boarded my taxi along Thomson Road, near Novena. I turned around and said "Hello" at the same time gesturing to her with my hands, like "What?". Although I knew what she meant, but feigning ignorance. She said "Huh? Ni shi Hua Ren, Ni pu huay chiang Hua Yi?" sounding quite arrogant. I said "No, you mean People's Park?" and she nodded. I sent her to where she wanted to go and she pointed to Chinatown Point building, looked me straight in the eyes as she paid the fare and I said "Thank you".
It is also very common for local commuters, the majority of them, when they board my taxi, they immediately start by directing me in Mandarin all the time and I will always wish them and reply in English and ask also where they wanted to go. My English is not bad and I speak everyday Mandarin quite fluently, but the thing is this, why do most commuters presume that you speak Mandarin only, even though my replies are in English? I tell you, it is widely misunderstood that taxi drivers are mostly Chinese Ed. True, we Singaporeans are bi-lingual, and so, not much problems in communicating unlike what I heard in the news that all taxi drivers in Marseilles must go to school to learn the English language due to influx of foreign tourists and nearly all drivers cannot speak or understand English at all, how stressful.
And then this good looking gentleman boarded my taxi and when he blurted loudly and fast in his mandarin accent, I was at a loss. I simply could not understand a word that he said. He was already in my cab and we both exchanged 'alien' hand signals and spoke in different 'tongues' but, alas, to no avail, I did not know exactly where he wanted to go. He looked blankly, put both his hands up like "I surrender" and got off my cab, there goes a 'lost' fare. "Phew" I hope I don't have to learn this foreign 'tongue'. Drove around to seek my next passenger and, yes, you guessed it, another Chinese National flagged me near Temple Street. This time it was different, he showed me a card, on it was scribbled, 'Hot.81 Ju Chiat'. I quickly made the correct deduction and brought him straight to his destination, without any chit-chats. Wow, I thought to myself, I must be in China?? (I have not been to China yet). I proceeded straight towards East Coast Road and just before the junction, two pretty young ladies hopped in, chatting with each other so loudly in....."Oh no," I said "Hello? Hello" and both of them spoke at the same time, "Yia Loong, with hands showing 16" that was easy, (Geylang Lorong 16), and with a sigh of relief I drove straight to their location........ Don't lose your control, breathe deeply............

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