Water, water everywhere…

What happens if you’re in the middle of Auckland with its 60-plus ethnicities and  want just a sip, not a bottle of water?

Linguistic confusion. It’s born out of the locals taking their lingo for granted – and new arrivals interpreting what they say,  just a little too literally.

And so it was one day when I asked at the Subway Sandwich corner on the ground floor of Britomart Station, where I could find a water fountain.

“Downstairs” they said and off I went. It’s not a vast area but I couldn’t find anything resembling one. So I decided to ask an Indian security guard. Not a  promising choice, because at the time his back was turned and he was grooving, refining some dance moves. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked where the water fountain was.

“Upstairs” he said with the same conviction as the Subway sammy maker.

“Upstairs they said downstairs” I told him and he looked at me with a mix of sympathy and incomprehension. “Up there” he said with a waggle of his head and decided to lead me there. He walked briskly to the huge glass windows at the rear of the ground floor and stopped.

“There” he said, brimming with confidence, “water fountain” – and pointed to the outdoor decorative pool.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.