Friday, May 26, 2006

The drive of your life

The first time I got into a taxi with a Singaporean, I was surprised that she addressed the taxi driver as "Uncle". I quickly realised that of course they weren't related: it is part of the Singaporean tradition of showing respect for your elders.

My Uncle on the way to the airport today would have been more properly addressed as "Grandad". The fact that this is an insult in UK culture is a sad reflection of our attitude towards the old; but in my taxi driver's case there were genuine reasons to suspect that this sort of caper wasn't really good for him: we made truly erratic progress as he leaned forward across the wheel, peering myopically and somewhat pessimistically through the windscreen, as the taxi veered freely across the three lanes of the highway. I was just about to suggest cheekily that if he stuck to just the one lane, I thought he'd find that we would not have an accident, when even more alarmingly he began to fumble in what appeared to be a specially fashioned pocket in the dashboard for his box of mints. How he got the plastic wrapper off I'll never know, because I was in the Brace Position at the time.


SHESH said...

Hi Lotti
I am from India & I was facsinated by your account of yor taxi ride. You know I really appreciated the fine language that you used in your blog. Very many bloggers use all kind of mish mash to say all kinds of nonsense & its rather painful to read :--)
In fact what you experienced in teh taxi is quite common in India. Any one older is called "uncle" or "Aunty" as the case may be.

I noticed in your profile that you have a peferance towards literature.
Are you a student ? I very much wish to exchange mails with you. May I?? My e mail id is To help you, I am male & work for a company in India & have a good appetite for reading :--)

ken c said...

slightly off in a tangent, but have you seen the video footage of "bus uncle"? it's all the rage in HK at the moment.