I asked the taxi driver, “Kam riyal?”, how many riyal to get me home. “Twenty”, he replied. And I countered, “La, la, la, khamstaj riyal”, no, no, no, 15 riyal – which was what I usually pay for the same trip. He smiled at me and said, “Yala, let’s go!”
I jumped into the taxi and thought about the weekend before the old guy asked me, “Where are you from?”
Still not giving up on my limited Arabic, I told him, “Ana min Malezia”, I’m from Malaysia.
“Malezia? Where is that?”
“Oh no! Not another one!” I thought to myself. Having travelled to a few countries, I know that while a lot of people know about Malaysia, there are still plenty who have never even heard of the country. And apparently this taxi driver is one of them.
“It’s in Southeast Asia.”
"Yes. You know Singapore?"
“Yes, I know Singapore.”
“Okay, Malaysia is just above it.”
“Above Singapore? Not Thailand?”
“No, Thailand is further up. Malaysia is right between Singapore and Thailand.”
“Malaysia is between Singapore and Thailand? I didn’t know that…”
“Shu haza, ya akhi?” What is this, brother? “You know Singapore and Thailand but not Malaysia?”
“No, I didn’t know.”
How frustrating. That seems to have always been the case among those who've never heard of Malaysia. *Sigh*
We were approaching my apartment block a few minutes later when he turned slightly towards me. Smiling, he said, “Of course I know Malaysia. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad”.
Sheesh! You got me, brother, you got me, ha ha!
Taxi driver: 1
Yours truly: 0
This is the eighth blog entry under 'Ramblings from Saudi' series.
'Ramblings from Saudi' is a series of blog entries originally written when I was living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for one year from 2007 to 2008. While the entries under this series are not exactly travel entries, (I hope that) they tell stories about life in Saudi Arabia in general as I personally experienced them.
For other 'Ramblings from Saudi' entries, click here.