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I’ve been in my own little personal feminist hell this week (see yesterday’s post for further evidence), but my taxi ride this afternoon was really just the icing on the cake. Please, read an excerpt of the conversation below.

***Taking a taxi back to work from lunch with J at the marina:

Uncle Taxi Driver: You are researchers? Waaaa what a waste!

Me: What??!!

Uncle: Such a waste two lovely ladies in a lab all day nobody can see their beauty.

J: [sarcastically] yeah well that’s why we come out into the sunlight for lunch.

Uncle: You are lovely ladies, so I’ll tell you how it is.  Men like all the Barbies. First you have beautiful Barbie, but next week, newer Barbie!

J: Yeah, I know a lot of guys like this…

Uncle: Yessss I know how the guys. Cheeky cheeky. Got Barbie, but then new Barbie comes and wah lan!  Must have new series.

Me: You mean guys wanna have Malibu Barbie too? Or even Malibu Ken.

[my inappropriate joke is unappreciated]

Uncle: Well, if you can get fresh milk you don’t need to bring home the cow.

[silence]

J: Wait let me guess, the woman is the cow in this story?

Uncle: Correct! If you can drink the fresh milk, why you need to bring the cow home? Then you got to feed the cow.

Me: Hey! What if the cow doesn’t want to come home with you? What if she doesn’t want you pulling on her udders, trying to get her fresh milk all the time?

Uncle: Well, the mans need a lot of different flavors: vanilla milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, milk in the coffee…

[a lot of suppressed snorting in the back seat]

Uncle: …and I like this Irish coffee. Good milk.

J: Well, I for one never saw the appeal of a redhead…

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BANG BANG BANG! Hello! Anybody home? Inspector! BANG BANG BANG!

Yes, that’s how I was rudely awaken this Saturday morning. Inspector? Huh? Wait, the water heater was fixed last month, and I’m pretty sure all the toilets are flushing…

BANG BANG BANG! Hello? Inspector!

Oh God, do we have anything illegal in here? Is my roommate harboring illegal aliens? No no, wrong country… A look through the peephole revealed a portly older Chinese man, standing outside my front door in a uniform with a clipboard and a giant badge reading “CONTROLLER”. Well, do I let him in? He’s in a uniform. I guess we’re in Singapore. I could definitely take him down… I glanced outside my window and saw that the apartment security guards were standing downstairs, and had most likely let this man into the building, so I opened the door…

Good morning miss! Mosquito Inspector!

I nearly choked from my surprise. Especially considering the fact that I just wrote a blog post about random laws in Singapore. Maybe someone’s playing a joke on me?

Excuse me, I’m sorry, but did you say you were a…a mosquito inspector?

Miss, your neighbors have Dengue, so we are inspecting the building for mosquito nests. May I come in?

The next 3 minutes were painful as I tried desperately not to burst into laughter from the absurdity of the situation. The mosquito inspector checked all of our plants for standing water, and asked me to flush the toilet in the laundry room at least once a week. He left as quickly as he came.

Actually, I’m really thankful that Singapore takes so many measures to get rid of those horrible insects and protect us all from Dengue. I’m also really thankful that they weren’t breeding in my house.

So we salute you, Mr. Mosquito Inspector. Your work here is done. Mr. Backyard Bug Zapper Inventor has nothing on you!


On a side note: What do you think the job posting for Mosquito Inspector looks like? I mean, what kind of qualifications do you need to have for that gig?

Lost in translation – a conversation between two office girlfriends:

Me: Man it’s late – we should go home soon.

RR: Yah lah, yah lah!

Me: Haha! Yalla? What? You speak Arabic now?

RR: Arabic, lah? No silly…I said “yeah, lah.” Singlish, lah! It means, “Yeah I know.”

Me: Ohh, because in Arabic, “yalla” means, “let’s go.”

RR: Really? Is that what they speak in Egypt? Arabic?

Me: Yeah, I’m pretty sure…

RR: Ohhhhh that explains a lot!!

Me: Why?

RR: Well, when I went to Egypt for my honeymoon, I don’t understand why everyone speaking so good Singlish! Everyone telling me “Yah lah habibi!”  I thought, wahlau these guys really speak Singlish everywhere in the world!    …Wait, what does habibi mean?

Surely by now you’ve guessed that I’ve been in the taxi of another crazy. It’s true – I got a ride today from Uncle Fruit Loops. Really, the entire conversation was epic, but I’ll give you the more ridiculous highlights:

***

Uncle: Ok, which way you want to go?

Me: The fastest way! Really, as fast as you can go – I’m so late!

Uncle: Ok can lah… Why you living here in Geylang? This is red light district.

Me: No it’s not bad at all. These lorongs are all condos. Many expats.

Uncle: But maybe some guy come to you and say ‘hey pretty lady’ and then you have to beat him away. Then you must go ‘POW POW POW gwun khai!’ [karate chops air with left hand].

Me: ahahahah!!! Yeahhhh teach me how to say this!!!

Uncle: Ok you do this: [uncle bats his eyelashes and motions sweetly with his free hand]: ‘swai khuh, lai’ [then starts slapping the air] ‘POP POP POP, GWUN KHAI!’

Me: What does that mean?

Uncle: It means, ‘come here, handsome boy,’ and then when he comes you hit him and say ‘GO AWAY!’

Me: Well that sounds counter-productive…

Uncle: Or you call your husband, he protect you.

Me: No husband…

Uncle: But you are beautiful lady! No one to protect you?

Me: Protect me? From what? This is Singapore!

Uncle: Then you call me. I be your boyfriend and I protect my lady. You have boyfriend?

Me: [oh no, not again…lie, Kiersten, lie!] uhhhhh yes.

Uncle: Your boyfriend is handsome?

Me: Oh yes. Very handsome.

Uncle: Maybe I am not so handsome, but I am quality! Your boyfriend is handsome, but maybe not quality. I think he is a playboy. Am I right?

Me: Oh well…umm…no, he’s a quality guy.

Uncle: No. I hear in your voice. He is telling you he loves you, but really he is fooling around with other girls. Am I right? But it’s ok, I put on my boxing gloves, we fight, and then the winner will win your heart! Can?

Me: Well, ummm…

Uncle: Where is your boyfriend from? He is local? He’s American?

Me: umm he is… [quick think, Kiersten, think!] … oh he’s from Austria. Big guy, very strong. Lots of muscles. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Uncle: Okaaaay lahhh! Why you didn’t say before? Arnold Schwarzenegger is quality guy!

In the ongoing series, Conversations with Singaporeans, I relay some of my more entertaining Singlish exchanges with the locals.

***

It’s late at night and I’m in a taxi, returning from a party with three of my French girlfriends (S, B, and A).  We are trying to convince B that the guy she likes is actually a loser.

B: But I don’t understand, I thought he really liked me. He asked for my phone number.  We kissed.

S: But really, he was behaving like this with all of the girls at the party.  He’s just playing around.

A: He’s just interested in flirting and he doesn’t want a serious relationship.  He likes the chase.

B: But what’s wrong with me?

Me: There’s nothing wrong with you.  It’s just a game for him.  Don’t take it too seriously.

B: But we kissed, so that means he really likes me right?

Uncle Chua: [breaking his silence] You are just the spare tire.

[conversation stops]

B: Huh? What did he say? I didn’t understand.

Me: [Desperately trying not to laugh.  Desperately, desperately trying not to laugh]. Oh, ummm, I’m not sure…

Uncle: [impatiently] I said, that you are just the spare tiiiiire.

[it’s too late – I lose all self-control and start laughing uncontrollably]

S: Wait, attends, I can’t understand his accent!  Kiersten, tell us what he said!

Me: Ummm, I think he said that she is a spare tire.

S: [to A] Mais non, je ne comprends pas. I don’t understand.  Qu’est-ce que c’est “spare tire”?

A: Spare tire: it means une roué de secours.

[S gasps. The cab is silent. All jaws are on the floor. We all eye B, nervously anticipating her reaction]

Uncle: [laughing] You know if he have maaaany girls, and he doesn’t call you, you are spare tire. Understand?

B: [leaning forward in interest] I am a spare tire? But so what do I do then?  Should I call him?

Uncle: Cannot, lah!

B: And if he texts me tomorrow, should I text him back?

Uncle: No!  Listen.  You have to understand how the man’s brain is working.

S: Please. Tell us.  How is working the man’s brain?

Me: Oh geeze.  Now you’ve done it…I’ve had enough crazy taxi drivers to know where this is headed…

Uncle: Yes! I tell you!

Me: Oh no. Ohhhh noooo…

Uncle: Fiiirst, you have to be pleasing the man.  Twice.  Two times.  Because after one he still looking for number two.  He find other chio bu for number two.

[the cab erupts with laughter]

Me: I warned you!

S: [to uncle] Ohh really? Is that so?

Uncle: YES!

S: Please, what other wisdom can you impart this evening?

Uncle: Yes, well you have to sometimes be cooking a little bit the dinner.

B: I don’t know if I’ll do this…

[arriving to our destination]

Uncle: Why you think I love so much my wife?

Me: Girls! Just.get.out.of.the.cab please!

In the ongoing series, Conversations with Singaporeans, I relay some of my more entertaining Singlish exchanges with the locals.

You might need to have some previous exposure to the concept of Chinese superstitions to understand while the following interaction is hilarious, but I will relate the conversation to you regardless:

***

Tuesday evening, at the apartment. S and I are sitting down with the landlord and the agent to sign a new lease. They’re both friendly Singaporean men. [Disclaimer: we may have flirted a little bit in an effort to convince them to give us a TV].

Landlord: (to me) So, I just need to see your passport or your work permit to verify your personal details are correct, and then we can finish oreddy.

Me: (fishing for my passport) Oh yeah, of course. No problem. Let me just…pull it out…okay here you go (handing over the passport).

Landlord: (opens my passport and takes a look) Ok great thanks…oh… oh …woww!!

[The landlord and agent look at my passport in awe. The agent whispers something to the landlord, looks at me and smiles].

Me: (turning to S in a whisper) I know we were a little flirtatious, but really??

[The men continue to admire my passport]

Me: (with a beaming smile) Yeah, it’s a pretty good photo, right?

Agent: Wahlau! You have a great passport number!!

Me: Thank y-…wait, what?…I have a great passport number?

Landlord:  Got passport so lucky lah! In our dialect, this is a really lucky number!

Me: (totally dejected) oh. uhh thanks, I think…

***

later in the day

S: (to me) Hey baby, wanna check out my passport number?

***

So after my ego was totally crushed, I decided to look up my passport number online. It turns out that it is indeed a very lucky number!

Obviously I can’t share the actual number with you, but you can read up on superstitions about Chinese numbers here.

Excerpt from my latest taxi conversation, circa Sun morning 2:30am on my way to watch the US/Ghana soccer match:

Me: But enough about me.  Uncle, who is your favorite American musician?

Uncle: I like this Anna Nicole Smis.

Me: Really?

Uncle: Yes great musician.  She has a great figure.  I love the guess jeans song.

Me: Ok but I don’t think she actually has any songs.

Uncle: Ahhh ok.  In this case, I like this Moron Curry.

Me: Moron Curry?

Uncle: Haaa Moron Curry!

Me: (silence) Oh, wait.  Mariah Carey?

Uncle: Yesss Moron Curry!

Me: Ok what about an American male singer?  Do you have a favorite?

Uncle: Mmm I think actually most Singaporeans like Sean Connery.

Me: Well, I agree, Sean Connery is awesome.  But unfortunately he is neither a singer nor an American.

Uncle: Mm Ha ok. Well in this case, most Singaporeans find Sebastian Sterile quite famous.

Me: Who is Sebastian Sterile?

Uncle: You know Sebastian Stegurglegurle.

Me: (silence…Sebastian Stegurglegurle?)

Uncle: Dis Sebastian Sterile he is doing the fighting and the running.  Very tough!

Me: Sebastian Sterile?  Oh no.  Oh no, you can’t possibly mean Sylvester Stallone..

Uncle: (practically screaming with excitement) Yess!!!!  Sebastian Sterile!

No one believes me when I tell my crazy taxi stories anymore, so I vowed that I would capture the next Crazy with the iPhone Voice Memo app.  Behold – I give you proof that my taxi drivers are in fact bananas!  (These are .m4a files, so you can open them using iTunes).  I wasn’t able to capture the entire convo because I only thought to pull out the recorder towards the end, but this should be sufficient evidence…

Let’s exchange passports

So you’re a sportsman?

I told you so…

In the ongoing series, Conversations with Singaporeans, I relay some of my more entertaining exchanges with the locals.

It seems as though every week I have a taxi story to top my last taxi story.  Those avid readers of my blog (yes Mom and Dad, I’m talking to you) may recall the Indian holiday expert.  Or perhaps you’ll remember the taxi driver who aspired to have my hand in marriage.  Well, they all pale in comparison to my most recent taxi experience.  Read on, dear friends!

Wednesday night, Raffles hotel taxi stand.

Uncle Taxi Driver: Hello good evening!

Me: Hello, Upper Serangoon road please.

UTD: Ok ok upper serangoon lah.  Uppah serangooon.  You having drinks at Raffles Hotel? You staying at Raffles hotel?  Veryy expenseeve lah.

Me: No no, just meeting friends.  So how expensive is it anyway?

UTD: Ohhhh very expenseeve.  One room costing 600 dollars!  If you want to stay in the presidential suite, must pay 25,000!

Me: You’re kidding!?  Per night?

UTD: Yessss 25,000!  Michael Jackson is staying in presidential suite.  Ronald Regan, Queen of England.  Very expenseeeve lah!

Me: My God I don’t even make that in a month!

UTD: Chuckling.  You know me neither.  But you know what we have?  We have our health.  This is all we can ask for.  You know if you have all the money in the world and you don’t have health – nothing you can do with money.

Me: Rather impressed. Yes, you know you’re right.  That’s a very lovely observation.

UTD: Haa, haa [interjection: this is the nasally Singlish way of saying “yeah”]. All we can ask for is our health and our family.  You know I tell you – I have 5 sons. You know if the devil comes to me tomorrow and he says: ‘I give you 10 million dollars you kill one son’, I will not take the money.  Because then what can I do I’m so miserable I loose one son.  You understand?

Me: Yes I understand.

UTD:  Haaa. So where you from?

Me:  Guess.

UTD: Hmmm, I don’t know.  Definitely not the US!

Me: Wrong.

UTDShocked. No!  Really?  You know, it’s not true what they say.

Me: Oh dear, this can’t possibly be going anywhere good. Oh yeah?

UTDConfidently. No.  It’s not true what they say about blond Americans!

Me: Nope, definitely not good. And pray tell, what do they say?

UTD:  They are saying that all blond Americans are very easy, you know?  But I don’t think they are like this.  I think these are just the porn stars.  But I don’t think all the blond women are with the men for the money.

Me: Oh my God how did this conversation take such a quick turn to the South?  What do I say now? Well uhhh, ok yes I guess this is not true.

UTD:  Yes not all the prostitutes in America.

MeSarcastically. Have you been to Thailand?

UTDLaughing. Yes!  My wife is from Thailand!

Me: Oh no!  Way to go K… way to call the man’s wife a prostitute!

UTD: Every month I’m working very hard to send her sisters money.  Her sisters own a pub, you know one of these pubs for men, in Thailand.  Every month I’m sending money so her sisters not having to sleep with these men.  I don’t think it’s working!  I think they just love the money so much they still go down and talk to the men and then men buy them drinks and I’m still sending them money for nothing!  I ask my mother – how to do?  My mother say to me – if the women want the money you can’t stop them sleeping with the men.

Me: Oy.  We’ve reached a point of no return. Ohh. Well, uhh.  I suppose some people will do odd things for money.

UTD:  Yes!  You know, maybe even I do strange things for money!  For example I’m no gay.  I have a wife and 5 sons, you understand?  But if the devil comes to me tomorrow and he says, ‘I give you 10 million dollars you spend one month with Elton John’, I do it!  Actually, first I check no AIDS, but then I do it!

MeIs this really happening to me right now? Oh well, I suppose 10 million dollars is a lot of money.

UTD:  Yes 10 million a lot of money lah!  10 million I won’t kill my son, but I spend one month with Elton John.  First I check no AIDS though, you understand lah?

Me:  Oh look this is my road!  Can you drop me off here please?

UTD:  You don’t want I take you to your apartment?

Me: Oh no this is fine!  Just going to run to the convenience store.  But you have a GREAT night!

UTD:  Ok ok lah!  You have a great night!  It is nice talking with you!

Me: Yeah, pleasure…

In the ongoing series, Conversations with Singaporeans, I relay some of my more entertaining exchanges with the locals.

Wednesday morning, late for work.  I hop in a cab and am cheerfully greeted by Sam, the taxi driver.  I swear I don’t make this stuff up.

Uncle Cab Driver: Goo moning!  Where we going?

Me: SGH block 7 please.

UCD: Ok can!  How long you living here?  You like Singapore?  Where you from?

Me: America.

UCD: Ahhh Americaa.  You boyfriend living here?

Me: No. No boyfriend.

UCD: Ahhh Americaa.  You boyfriend living in America?

Me: No. No boyfriend.  Single.

UCD: Animated. No boyfriend?  You so preteey lah!  You not have boyfriend you working too hard lah.  I sink you need find Ay-si-yan boyfriend.

Me: Incredibly amused. Oh yeah?  Asian boyfriend?  From where?

UCDThoughtful. You know Japan?

Me:  I need a Japanese boyfriend?

UCD:  Tsk. No lah!  Japanese too manpower.  They controlly the girl.

Me:  Ok no Japanese.  What about Indian?

UCD:  INDIAN?!?

MeTaken aback. Oh, ok…no Indian?

UCD:  Oh I not know Indian.  Deep in thought. Better you marry Chinese. Chinese okay. You parents very young?

Me:  My parents are in their [insert my parent’s age here].

UCD:  Yes very young.  You make childrens here bring back to Americaa to your parents.  First find boyfriend. You working hard make moneey?

Me: Working very hard.  First make money, then find boyfriend.

UCDAghast. Ohhh nooo lah!!  You so preteey you not need moneey. Swinging hands. You know tiger?

Me: Confused.  Where is this going? Tiger?  Like year of the tiger?

UCD: Still swinging hands. Yes! Also crazy this Tiger he do golf.  I not understand.  Boy also like.  Girl also like.  Everybody like Tiger.  He have money get crazy.  Boy also like. Girl also like. Tsk tsk tsk.

Me: Pondering this . Hmm. Oh! Turn right here please.

UCD:  What about your countrymen?  You like?

Me:  Americans?  Yes I like.

UCD: Laughing. Ohh not so good lah.  American mens not very generous.  Not taking care of you.  Singaporean better.  Tomorrow you call taxi I pick you up we get married!

Later in the morning I told G about my taxi ride with Sam and she burst into giggles.  Her mocking response?  “Why you not say yes, lah? Everyday you have chauffeur!  …Wait. He good looking?”

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