Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The ride

Eric the cab driver drove me home this evening. He was in his twenties, had been driving for about a year, and was eager to practise his English as well as teach me how to use tones properly to give my address in Stanley (Chek Chu). Tones are the hardest part of learning Cantonese; westerners are usually too high-pitched, apparently, and you'll sometimes find yourself parroting a phrase you've learned, thinking it's correct, only to be met with blank incomprehension because the tones are all over the place.

The journey from Central to Stanley takes about 20 minutes in the evening, so he had time to tell me, rather sadly, that he felt that 70% of his passengers - even one bolshy four year old, in the example he gave - didn't respect him or treat him like a human being. In his view mainlanders were the worst. I suggested that he might want to fit an ejector seat for recalcitrant passengers, failing which a bucket of water might do the trick; but he pointed out not only that this would mean losing 70% of passengers prior to payment, but also that in Hong Kong, taxi drivers are legally obliged to accept all passengers, no matter how rude.

3 comments:

Grande Poobah said...

oh god.

it makes me somehow relieved that the gweilo population are not the source of rudeness. poor tones i can handle, but not treating the poor bloke with respect is beyond the pale.

Gillian Haggart said...

On the subject of tones, my youngest offspring now uses freely the word 'hoat', as in 'boat'. Meaning 'hot'. But she has become Scottish overnight gxxx

LottieP said...

See Ken the cab driver's take on this, however... I was surprised, too, GP that the gweilos aren't the rudest.

Glad to hear your daughters are taking seriously the need to assimilate, Gillian. If only I'd recognised at a young age the realpolitik, undignified though it may be, of faking a Scottish accent which then becomes a real one by default.