Yesterday I took a bus into town. It was a challenging experience, partly because I didn’t know how to say where I wanted to go to, but mainly because I didn’t know where I wanted to go to. Perhaps I should learn how to say ‘Drop me off somewhere interesting’.
Anyway, after a tense negotiation in sparrow Mandarin, bus driver A convinced I didn’t want to get on his bus as it was going to the depot. He kindly put me in touch with Bus Driver B, who spoke a neat kingfisher English. He not only dropped me somewhere interesting, the busy town centre, but also hooked me up with a guide – the only other passenger.
Jasper was in town for a job interview. Coming down for the day from Taipei, he had earlier taken the boat out to Green Island where he is seeking work in a duty free shop. He had a spare hour before the five hour train journey back to Taipei so he thought he would go into town and get some fried chicken. Bus driver A thought I might like to join him. I desperately did – not being able to order food was cutting down my opportunities to eat food.
32 year old Jasper spoke excellent English, and Portugese too it seems – he is just back from six years working in Sao Paolo for a Taiwanese computer cabinet making business -a dying trade apparently. Self-deprecating, he kept apologising for his poor English in excellent English. Determined I was to get the best out of my fried chicken experience, he gamely translated the menu, getting stuck on the word for thigh. He didn’t need to translate, to be honest he could have rolled a dice to decide and I’d have eaten what I was given and the dice too. Anyway, after proposing alternative translations like drumstick, breast, wing and Adam’s apple, we settled on thigh as the suitable word. To talk of such things is one of the joys of travel. I think Basho said something like that. Although he may have been talking about flowers rather than thighs.