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Touts: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

Posted by daveb on March 31st, 2008

I’ve become more adept in dealing with the touts and shopkeepers. Rather than meet their anger and force with straight-forward firm responses (my original method, which served only to incite further anger and force), I now find myself deaf to most solicitations and any responses I make are convoluted, nonsensical and deliberately confusing. It works a treat! Example:

Hard-selling tout: Where you from?
Me: (Pretends not to hear.)
Tout: (Stands directly in front of me, I do not stop walking. Tout walks backwards, maintaining a distance of six inches from my nose.) I SAID WHERE YOU FROM?!
Me: UK.
Tout: England?
Me: No. U of K.
Tout: America? (Mental money-hands begin rubbing together.)
Me: No. U-OK, man!
Tout: Australia?!
Me: No! I said U-o-K! It’s in Europe!
Tout: (Confused) Oh… U-o-K, I see friend.
(Unable to judge my net worth based on my homeland, the tout moves onto easier prey.)

Comments

Comment from Sista
Time: April 1, 2008, 6:40 pm

How I am loving these Maroqui stories darling brother – welcome to my world. (Well, a little bit anyway.)

Or, as they say in Arabic: “Mabrouk ya zellameh, inta arabi halla”.

Which broadly translates as: “Congratulations dude, you’re an Arab now”

Best piece I was ever given here is: “Hear everything, say little and just smile. A lot.”

Keep em coming xxx

Comment from daveb
Time: April 2, 2008, 12:21 pm

@Sista:
It was only the other day that I was saying to Squiffy how you must be facing this ‘different’ (read: completely irrational and nonsensical) culture every day of your existence in the Emirates. To me, it’s like arguing with a thousand women! ;-) (just kidding…)

Comment from Sista
Time: April 2, 2008, 5:12 pm

Yep. Hehehehehehehehehe.

But, happily, a little bit of Arabic, masses of patience and a wide smile will get you most things in the end I find.

The trick is never to lose your patience dude – it’s seen as insulting, you lose ‘face’, they shout back to defend their honour and just brings the shutters right down. Ie you get nada, zip. And word spreads that you’re a mean ajnabi (foreigner).

(Actually there’s a number of tricks – too long to go into here – but I’m highly grateful to a couple of authors who have written books on the subject.)

Work sh*te at mo and it’s 36 degrees. I’m off out for a cool beer now to meet my friend Naim. Ana arabiya halla!

Keep smiling habibi xxx

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