At a Loss for Words: My Foreign Language Meltdown

I am probably spoiled, being brought up bilingual and exposed to many languages and cultures. Perhaps I just haven’t been adventurous enough in my travels, but I don’t ever recall finding myself in a situation where I could neither derive any inkling of meaning from the exchange nor express in any terms or gesticulations what I needed to say—that is until now.

A few days after arriving at our new home in Bangkok, I set off for the hospital with a hefty fever, bronchitis and my two kids in tow since one of them was also sick. We had an easy and quick taxi ride there, despite the dreaded traffic, and shelled out just over 50 Baht (US $1.65).

An hour or so later, wowed by the incredible efficiency of our visit and the modernity of the hospital, and carrying two stylish bags of meds for my eldest and myself, we took a taxi back home. I check if the driver knows the main artery we live right beside, since I am utterly incapable of giving detailed directions. Geez I can’t even introduce myself yet.  The driver vigorously shakes her head, yes, she knows, and off we go. I am not too worried as I have the address written both in roman and Thai characters as a backup.

Fast forward twenty minutes with no recognizable landmarks, and she makes the first call for directions…

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