Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Impromptu English Class on a Tiny Bus

I admit it: it was not my finest moment. At least not at first.

As the
Veritable Stuffed Grape Leaf of a Bus which takes us from Izmit to the Middle of Nowhere pulled up at the bus stop, a Gaggle of Schoolboys stormed the door, knapsacks and elbows flying. Fucking kids, grumbled one of my colleagues.

You took the words right out of my mouth
, I muttered as I just barely avoided a knapsack in the face and dodged an elbow.

Having just finished teaching for 4 hours, as well as clashing with giving voice to alternate pedagogical theories with my
thwarted porn star of a head teacher supervisor, the last thing I was in the mood for was a Gaggle of Schoolboys bouncing off the walls of a tiny bus. For the next 40 minutes.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the bus was packed because it always is and we headed towards No Man's (or No Adult's) Land at the back of the bus amongst the Gaggle of Schoolboys. The Veritable Stuffed Grape Leaf of a Bus wheezed, shuddered and lurched off. The boys, remarkably, were chatty and boisterous but not so much as to make my ears bleed. Then they heard us speak English.

hello!how are you?where are you from?do you like football?do you like to dance?do you like puzzles?i am very happy to meet you.what is your name?my name is you like books?i like to you like manchester united?do you like christian rinaldo?i hate puzzles!

It was a volley of verbs, a fusillade of phrases, a salvo of sentences - and by
Atatürk's beard (actually, he didn't have one), they were cute. And well-mannered. And articulate. And unlike my students - ten years their seniors and placed in more advanced classes - the Gaggle of Schoolboys could form sentences with nouns and verbs.

And thus the impromptu English class began. They showed us their books. We traded questions with answers and more questions. They laughed; we laughed. We looked for the sudden appearance of Rod Serling at every stop but no, it seemed that these kids were normal.

Aren't they lovely? enthused my colleague. (She's European. Europeans grossly overuse the word 'lovely'.)

But she was right: they were lovely.

Twenty minutes ago they were just 'fucking kids', I reminded her. And I had agreed with you. I hang my head in shame.

I hung my head in shame.

And then the merriment ended. Just like that. The bus driver barked something quite incomprehensible to us but crystal clear to the Gaggle of Schoolboys. It seemed - from both the boys' immediate reaction as well as the hair standing on the back of our necks - that we were disturbing the Driver of our Veritable Stuffed Grape Leaf of a Bus.

He barked again - but this time in English: the lesson is over!

We were too loud. We were laughing. We were having fun.

People aren't supposed to have fun in Turkey, pronounced our colleague sagely.

Our class had ended. We continued our ride deep up and into
the Middle of Nowhere in silence. Five minutes before we reached our stop, the bell rang, we heaved to a standstill, and the Gaggle of Schoolboys descended en masse from our Veritable Stuffed Grape Leaf of a Bus. was very nice to meet you.goodbye.goodbye. have a good day.goodbye.

They waved; we waved.

Fucking bus driver,
I grumbled as
the Veritable Stuffed Grape Leaf of a Bus wheezed, shuddered and lurched off.


Snowflake said...

What a NICE story! We met 2 little Italian boys this morning and they knew how to sat good-bye! So we said caio.

Snowflake said...

that was supposed to me say, not sat.

This Cat's Abroad said...

Perhaps our little Turkish boys should be teaching you English ;)

Frisco said...

Sounds to me like you could gather the locals together and teach the driver some manners,,, Maybe he could offer fresh fruit and tea on the bus or have sign alongs and such,,,I know GB loves a good old fashion sing along,,,

Anonymous said...

i've been publicly chastized on the bus by people around me and then by the attendant fellow. I don't get it but will now keep my tone down. different decibils used on the streets though. nice writing... teaching in Turkey?

This Cat's Abroad said...

Hi Anon - yes, I'm teaching in Turkey. Last night another bus driver barked at us. I guess we were too loud - again.

Magda said...

I seem to think being too loud is a great quality of Canadians and Americans in close quarters because we're so used to people not hearing us over other noises. It's quite and adjustment when you travel to other countries and are not sure what is acceptable! lol Great story!

(Polish-American living in Canada)