11 October, 2009


Navigating the Multiculture

As the train stood at London Bridge, I was approached by an agitated young woman of East Asian apect, at a guess Thai, Burmese or one of the better-fed class of Indo-Chinese. "Ang go king coat", she said. Within the limitations of English orthography, that is a pretty fair attempt at a transcription; I am not "camping it up" to create a stupid-foreigner effect. If I could be arsed I would attempt a proper IPA representation, but the foregoing is close enough.

I looked suitably puzzled. "Ang go king coat", she repeated, with some urgency. I struggled manfully to interpret her intent. "Ang go king coat", she said a third time, with some insistence. An inspiration struck me. "King's Cross?", I ventured. She nodded enthusiastically.

Now this was a Charing Cross-bound train, and the doors might close at any time, so I directed her to leave the train promptly. The further complications of whether the connecting Thameslink service from London Bridge to St Pancras was actually running (engineering works being the bane of weekend rail travel) and even if it were, how she might elicit the necessary directions from her next interlocutor, well those were questions far beyond the available resources of time and language.

I hope she got to King Coat eventually, wherever it might turn out to be.

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