Why locals are so much fun
Locals can be really wonderful. They can be great sources of information, they’re useful in emergencies and may even end up being your friend years down the line. I always try to strike up a conversation with a local person to have an idea of what the people are like. But let’s face it, not everyone is perfect.
Take directions, for instance. be very careful when asking locals how to get somewhere.
They give funny directions
First I ask someone if they know where a particular place is and the response is always: “Yes, as a matter of fact, I do know where that is”. Then they start giving directions: “You go straight along that road, look for a coconut tree with a curve in the trunk, go left at the coconut tree, go on until you see a goat tied to another tree- the goat is always there, day and night. Turn left again and soon you’ll see a large rock with small rocks around it. Stop. The house is right next to the large stone.” Those were the exact directions given to me when I was lost in Penang once.
Everything is always “two minutes away”.
Beware when asking a local for directions because if you ask how long it’ll take you to walk there, they’ll always give some impossible time frame. In my experience, to a local, everything is two minutes away. The reality is that I end up reaching most places in 15 minutes instead. I’ve been given the most ridiculous time estimates so many times that I try very hard not to snort when I am told that a place I’m looking for is a two-minute walk away.
The “don’t go there” syndrome
I’m listening intently to the man behind the counter, in fact, I’m actually writing the directions down into my notebook.
“You take the first right, walk straight down and keep an eye out for a banner for a coffee advertisement. DON’T go there! Just keep on going that way, then turn left at a large yellow house.
“Go past the yellow house and go on until you see a turning to your right just next to a school. DON’T go there! Go left instead at the next turning.” After a few rounds of this, I’m ready to kill him.
Despite all this, I’d like to think that locals know more than I do so I’m going to keep on asking them for directions anyway. Though I still don’t think I’ll ever reach anywhere in two minutes.
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