Taxing taxi talk

Having spent the last two weeks practicing it, I’ve become rather adept in the art of pidgin to try and make myself understood here in India. So adept, in fact, that I’ve inadvertently started speaking in loud, slow, broken English all the time. Which is why today’s exchange outside Mumbai’s Gateway of India was a little embarrassing.

Gateway of India
Me: “WHERE. BUY. TICKET. FOR. BOAT?” [jabs finger at couple’s tickets and waves arm in direction of the jetty]

Unsuspecting western couple: “Erm… O-over there, by that Coke kiosk.”

Me: “YOU. KNOW. IF. NEXT. BOAT. LEAVING. SOON?” [points at watch and does inexplicable windmill motion with arms]

Couple: “Erm, yes, in about five minutes.”

Turns out the nice man and his wife were from Stockport and even given my dodgy Nottinghamshire accent, they could probably have managed to understand me without me shouting at them like an idiot.

In my defence, when you spend seven hours in taxis with drivers whose first language is Hindi, or one of the regional variations, you happily start talk like this if it means getting a bit of conversation.

Most of the drivers have seemed pleased to have someone to chat to and are pretty inquisitive about where I come from, what I’m doing in India, and what my husband is thinking of letting me come to India by myself (I don’t bother correcting their assumption that a woman of my age should be married by now, it raises too many other questions that even pidgen can’t explain).

One of the more awkward chats I’ve repeatedly found myself getting into though is religion. All of the taxi drivers have little models of their respective holy symbol/favourite five-armed god/religious leader stuck to their dashboard, and they’re always eager to point out every place of worship we may pass on our travels.

Yesterday my driver asked me what my religion’s god was called.

Me: “He just called ‘God’.”

Driver: “No, but what his name?”

Me: “Just ‘God’, that is his name.

Driver: “Yes, but what you call him?”

Me: [exasperated] “Jebus. We call him Jebus.”

Driver: “Ahhh. Jebus. Ok.” [nods happily to himself and carries on driving]


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