Skip to content

#181 Using Local Catcalls

November 5, 2012

submitted by Brianna Goldberg

When the night is dark, the air is hot, the tongue is dry, and the only solution—getting some beer-y relief from the bartender— seems more trying than it should be, this is the expert Expat Aid Worker’s moment to shine.

While an expat newbie’s good old North American stand-by of trying to “catch his eye” or slightly, carefully, raising a hand is unlikely to yield any beverages from the local barkeep, making said expat newbie more and more frustrated by those potentially Malaria-ridden mosquitos nipping at his ankles as he sweats and dehydrates and wonders why the ‘H’ he moved to a developing country when holy goodness all he wants is a drink and—


Such is the satisfying opportunity in which an expert EAW can trot out his favorite of the local cat-calls, thus rescuing his brethren, the poor expat newbie languishing from thirst across the bar.

Hissing, clicking, clucking or “kissing,” for the EAW there’s nothing quite like getting the local bartender’s attention with the local attention-getting mouth-noise. Both satisfying and effective, foreigner-issued hisses like this are sure to elicit a humored and efficient response from wait-staff because, well, nobody knew that a foreigner could make THAT SOUND so ably.

EAW cat-call use is akin to using words in other languages in its ability to demonstrate adoption of local culture. But uttering a local dialect ‘thank-you’ or ‘please’ is a skill easily picked up in a week or two by any shmoe passing through town.

Employment of local cat-calls, on the other hand, is far more demonstrative of how deeply, authentically, totally entrenched the EAW is in local culture since these attention-getting sounds are so guttural– much harder to pull off than just the mumbling of a few words. Cat-calls take confidence, they take swagger. (They also tend to get results.)

However, while using such local noises within their region of origin is an impressive and peacocky feat, beware the EAW who does not respect the sound’s boundaries. EAWs attempting to summon a taxi by puckering a noisy kiss sound on the streets of London on layover might just as soon get shame-clucked-at (or clocked) by offended passers-by.

Thankfully, airline attendants on call in these exotic catcall regions are generally accustomed to such noises, making flights from hiss-friendly countries, bound for more sonically reserved destinations, a safe transition space: the EAW should consider the first turn of in-flight beverage service his or her last chance to cluck with impunity.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Zoe permalink
    November 6, 2012 6:55 am

    But when home and you forget, your mother’s reaction when you try to get her attention with an oh-so-polite (no reaction) and so repeated snapping of your fingers……………… I got the back of my head snapped in return!

  2. November 18, 2012 8:59 pm

    that’s a fascinating sub-culture for me, thanks. the happy healthy people in your illustration do not look like they need aid though.

  3. ckombo permalink
    November 19, 2012 3:40 pm

    “Cluck with impunity.” You’re killing me, thank you.


  1. #208 Hanging with people from the same chronology | Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: