Dad's Memories

- 27 August 98 - 27 August 98

"Bidets to Bullfights"

c - Arthur J. Langdon -1970

013k -- Lisbon - more taxi tales, shopping, and adventure in trying to find some "Good old American home cooking - A Chinese Restaurant" -- 013k

Just as taxi drivers in Paris have their thing, which is out and out war on any other vehicle moving, so to do the taxi drivers in Lisbon, but with this addition. The Lisbon taxis consider as prime game - pedestrians - and these they roughly divide into two catagories, the quick..., and the dead.... It is a constant reminder to the taxi passanger that when he or she again becomes a pedestrian - to be quick - or to be roughly divided. Taxis here are extremely cheap when compared to American standards, and what would be a twenty minute walk to the shopping area is a nineteen cent ride in a taxi - with the additional thrill of pedestrian hunting.

The shopping areas of Lisbon are an unbelievable, unending, sucession of shops - mostly small ones - with every conceivable kind of merchandise available for haggling over how much to pay.

The free agent peddlars, unlike the ones in Paris, do not peddle dirty pictures as much as they do bigger game - like exotic looking wrist watches. Their command of our language too is much more professional than their counterparts in Paris and fits in with what we may be accustomed to in the states like - " Hey, bud, ya wanna buy a good watch - real cheap? " This followed by a furtive showing of the time piece - like the dirty picture hawkers in Paris. These travelling businessman are more persistant then their Parisian counterparts as well, and instead of not attempting to corrupt a good family man with a sense of morals, they will walk with you for at least a block with a gradually descending scale of prices before they again melt into the crowd.

After several weeks of dutifully eating the local fare - where ever we found ourselves to be, Rosebud and I simultaneously decided a switch to some "good old American home cooking" was in order, and decided to find a Chinese restaurant. While a goodly percentage of our Portuguese contacts either spoke or understood English, many of course, did not. Included in this catagory were quite a few cab drivers.

Two cabs were in the line, and we approached the first with the obvious question like "Chinese restaurant?" A blank expression in return... Then on to a bit of what was intended to be descriptive charades - like Hong Kong, Canton, Shanghai, --- a finger pushing up in the corner of each eye to simulate an oriental expression, accompanied by some sing-song humming and a few mincing steps from Madame Butterfly... The cabbie took off like a shot to get away from these scary Americans, and the same routine was tried again on the next driver - who too, apparently was not about be have his pure Portugese speech in any way spoiled by a foreign language.

At about the time that he too was ready to step on the gas and find some sane prospective customers - a voice in clear, precise, clipped English came from behind us with " if you people are looking for a Chinese restaurant, I know where two are side-by-side near the American Embassy".

The voice came from a young handsome fellow - obviously from good old England all the way. We thanked him and asked if he could give the cab driver instructions to find these sources of good American style cooking, but he admitted to no knowledge of Portuguese. The cabby was no more understanding of English charades than of the American variety, so our newly acquired friend said that since our necessary direction was on the way to the airport, he would join us to our destination and then continue on. On entering the cab, he held up his right arm and asked the driver - "How do you say right in Portugese?", then held up his left hand with a similar question. When our chauffer continued to show no interest in charades, our British friend just jabbed in the direction we were to take and sure enough we arrived at two Chinese restaurants side-by-side. Our benefactor would not even permit us to pay our share of the cab fare and continued on with the charades and the cabbie to the airport.

The Chinese food was only faintly reminiscent of the homeland, but the whole affair was a real fun thing.

Index - Uncle Art & Aunt Clara's trip to Europe - 1970, "Bidets to Bullfights"

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