Chinglish crassics

As an editor, it was all I could do to stop myself from leaping out and attacking this car in front of me with my red pen.

RAV4 gibberish

To calm myself down, I thought I’d do some breathing exercises when I got home. But I hadn’t counted on the instruction leaflet that came with the yoga mat:

Train the abdorminal muscle!

  1. Sit down the floor, two knee hows arose. stretched before the dual taltivs.
  2. Finger and health to behind, prop up two hands, it is right stretch knee, the left knee bovo arises.
  3. Lifting the lower jaw and suching the bodying upwards with the strength, the back becomes circular, Conscious breath, fall down.


  1. This product special-purpose cushion of sports, please don’t move and make it to use.
  2. At time of sports, please pay attention to being excessive, prevent the allident.
  3. Can’t carry on too fierce sports, otherwise increase burden for the body. When have not suited yet, must mot adpot the reluctant posture, want progessive sports.
  4. Plase note this product may fade, so can’t struggle or keep in touch with the moist clothes.

I saved the best till last …

  1. In Yoga or movement,breath in first before movement, feel elated and exalted after moverment.
  2. Use nose to breath in, at the time of breathig, the body should heave.
  3. When the belly button presses close to and carries the bone,feel elated and exculant from the mouth, don’t finish vomitting quickly also vomitting slowly.

ROFL … Agh!

I think I’ve pulled a muscle!

Come together

A short while ago, a friend told me a story of how they’d been driving back home along the north coast of Jamaica at around 10pm when a tree suddenly fell across the road, crashing onto oncoming traffic. The woman whose car had been struck was herself unharmed, although her car was a write-off. And then there was still the huge tree blocking the road.

In another country, motorists would probably have waited for emergency or specialized services to help them and to fix the problem – not here in Jamaica. In a wonderful example of self-help and solidarity, the stranded motorists ran back to their cars, whipped out the obligatory machete and began chopping at the tree. “In ten minutes the tree was gone!” chuckled my friend, exhibiting another great Jamaican characteristic – exaggeration!

In the slideshow below is another example of helping each other out of a fix, this time on the narrow winding road that runs through Bog Gorge in central Jamaica. There had just been a heavy downpour and large parts of the road were flooded. This meant having to weave from side to side of the road, keeping a careful eye on oncoming traffic. The subject of the slideshow wove a little too widely, swerved to avoid another car and shot off the road and down the riverbank.

Rainy Day

The wind picked up yesterday, gusting so hard that I took down the shade sails in the back garden for fear that they blow away or snap their wooden fixture posts. It was obvious that this was not an innocent wind, but that it was carrying some force far more malevolent than itself.

Sure enough, by nightfall the low rumbles of thunder began rolling down the hills behind us. My daughter woke up frightened by the noise and came downstairs. We sat on the sofa and counted 30 seconds between a soft lightning flash and a distant growl of thunder. “See?” I said. “It’s very far away.”

Just a few moments later there was a blinding flash and immediately after a huge CLAP! shook the house.

The rain picked up too, forcing us to run round and close all the louvre windows – it was stotting so hard that the splashback could bounce up and in through the gaps.

The son et lumière show of a tropical storm continued through the night, waking both children several times. At around 4 a.m., Mr B found both kids in bed together teaching each other Spanish: “You’re mi hermano … and I’m mi hermana, you see?”

The rain was still in full force by the time I took them to school the following morning: the “little” rainy season had officially begun.

Video: Barbican Road

Tech note

Reload page if video thumbnail does not appear. From experimenting with various online video hosts, YouTube seems to be the most efficient. gave me some problems uploading and with playback, and as for Google video, I’m still waiting for their broadcast approval, three days after uploading the clip.

My heart sank when I saw the Friday evening rush hour traffic snaking its way along Barbican Road. Faced with 30-minute drive to cover a one-mile stretch, I pulled out my camera and filmed some driveby scenes.

The missionaries in “uniform” were a bonus, marching onward in synch. White missionaries in Jamaica is like taking coals to Newcastle or selling snow to the Inuit – Jamaica holds the world record for the greatest density of churches per square mile, and you never have to look far for some Old Testament wisdom.

Not quite a Jaguar

Listen loud while you read …

On the road again, to Schiphol to pick up Mr B. from Paris.

After accelerating to 130 km/hr, I noticed that the car didn’t slow when I eased off the gas.

I braked slightly and tried again.

It was barely noticeable since I was going flat out, but still, I felt anxious. Then I chided myself for being silly, as if denying it would make the problem go away.

Shortly after, I saw a service station up ahead and pulled off the highway in neutral. As I began to slow, the noise of the engine became more audible. I realized with horror that it was still revving at top speed. I parked quickly and turned off the engine. … The revs slowed until the engine was hiccuping and shuddering. But it didn’t stop! I took the key out completely. It kept going! Aaagh! It’s a ghost car! It’s possessed!!

I jumped out in case it was going to explode. But it simply shuddered and shook a final time and stalled.


What now? It was 106 km to Schiphol, I had a full tank of petrol, a half-loaded cellphone, it was getting dark and yes, I was wearing sunglasses.

I hit the cellphone. First the Dutch highway help-thing department. Goede middag, mevrouw. What? You have a car with Italian plates? You have to call the Italian highway help.

Buona sera, signora. What? You have Italian insurance? Call them *click*.

Okey-dokey. Got Aldo on the line at the insurance company in Milan.

Ciao! What? You are British, you have a Dutch car with plates converted to Italian ones … and a French driver’s licence?! … … It’s hokay for me!

Just before my cellphone battery died, we concluded that the insurer’s Amsterdam office would send out a tow truck. My car would be towed to a local lockup, then after the weekend, towed to the nearest Nissan garage.

Pfff. What a hassle.

Maybe, I thought, maybe if I keep a steady high speed without changing gear, then I could drive myself back home…

I set off at low speed with a banshee under the bonnet. I flipped on my emergency lights but that only encouraged people to honk their horns.

(What is that about?)

I turned off the flashing lights, doubled back and headed home.

It was very unnerving, driving with no feet on the pedals. The engine accelerated by itself up to its maximum revs, which was fine when there was no one in front of me. Otherwise I had to brake softly in order to rein in the screaming revs.

It was inevitable that the Ketelbrug (lifting bridge) would be up, so that I had to sit in the waiting line of cars, pretending that I was on the starting grid for a Grand Prix and ignoring the stares.

Look back in wonder

An hour later, I cruised into the residential area, sounding like a boy racer looking to burn someone off on a Saturday night road race.

I pulled up in front of the house and switched off the engine. The ba-DAM ba-DAM ba-DAM of the dying engine sounded like hardcore techno and the kids ran out in their pyjamas and started dancing in the headlights.

Yayyy! We’ve got a dancing car! they screamed with delight.


When I took the car to the garage the following week, it was fixed in 30 minutes and cost 40 euros.

I swear … this car has a Teflon cost-resistant coating. We’ve spent almost nothing on it, almost begging the mechanic to do more checkups. Thirteen years old, 250 000 km on the clock and ready to rumble!

I almost thought about shipping it to Jamaica, but the local mechanic has offered to buy it for 250 euros. Deal!