Recently, we had a funny experience at our local market Phsar Toul Tou Pong (Russian Market). We’d just finished having our first market dinner (a hefty US$6 for 2 plates of food & a bottle of water) and were about to start our short stroll home.
Outside the market, there’s an army of eager tuk-tuk (three wheel cab) drivers waiting to take a fare.
“Tuk-tuk?”, “Tuk-tuk?”, “Tuk-tuk?”, you hear it coming from all sides.
One driver came up to Casey and said, “Tuk-tuk?”.
She girlishly replied, “khnhom ot chng dteh aw khun.” (I don’t want, thank you).
The drivers eyes widened in surprise… then he burst out in laughter!
“Khnhom ot chng dteh,” he repeated as he continued to laugh. “Hey,” he yells to the other tuk-tuk drivers watching across the road. “Bong tah “khnhom ot chng dteh”,” (Guys, she just said I don’t want in Cambodian). This caused a mixed response of smiles, giggles and raucous laughter.
He turned to me and said, “jah yay la-orr” (she talked good).
She turned him down but the way she did it left everyone feeling good about the situation and for a brief moment we shared a small connection with this little community of drivers.
Sometimes we think about communication and are worried about having to get things right. We’ve both taught English at AMES back in Melbourne and it reminds me that communication isn’t about being right. Its about being effective.
Sometimes, you get it wrong and sometimes you nail it but there’s fun to be had either way.