By Ben Salmons .
Getting a taxi here can be an interesting experience. I have had drunk drivers, stoned drivers, happy drivers, angry drivers and so on. If I were to go and live back in England again, there are some situations that I would probably be unsure how to act in. Getting a taxi would be one. It’s become second nature to hail a cab with the camp downward wave and finger flick near the hip that is customary over here. And taxi drivers back home just go where you ask them. There is none of the bartering, none of the struggle to persuade the driver that he should go to your destination of choice. Goodness, you don’t even have to give English taxi drivers directions. I’m sure I’d find myself talking to a taxi driver back home in the strange mix of English and Thai that I use over here. “Go, Thanon Rockingham. Chai?” It doesn’t really sound quite right.
Every now and then, a taxi driver will smile at me and say “rod my tit”. Naturally, my first assumption is that I am being invited to take part in an act of intimacy but I am also wary of my limited Thai language skills so my response so far has been to smile vacuously and nod my head. The vacuous smile and head-nod, often employed with a kind of short, grunting laugh, have become an essential part of my linguistic toolbox here. And I wonder why it is only taxi drivers who make such offers? Not a single one of the many attractive women I’ve got to know here have extended the same invitation which I naturally find a little disappointing. However, little by little, my language skills are growing and I now know that the taxi drivers are commenting on a relatively unusual phenomenon in Bangkok – that the roads are clear of traffic. Thank goodness I didn’t start gleefully peeling my clothes off in one of those taxis!
One day, I got my nipple tweaked. I got a taxi home from work, as usual when I am working in the office, as it is cheaper than using public transport and a lot quicker. The driver soon took a right instead of a left. Bangkok taxi drivers often know a ‘quicker’ way which takes you all round the houses but I had a feeling this guy was genuine so I sat back to see where we went. His driving was more like low level flying and he produced a wonderful, maniacal laugh every time we had a near miss. However, it was a great way home and much faster than usual. As he didn’t respond to me in English, I assumed he didn’t speak the language. How wrong I was, and a good job I didn’t insult him because, as I got out of the taxi, he leaned over to me, tweaked my nipple, laughed maniacally and said “spik eengliss leettle bit”.
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