Wednesday, August 1, 2007
You say tomato and I say xi hong shi
After taking in a nice Western-style lunch (including servers that can speak pretty-good English and GREAT smoothies too) with the Leman family, I take up an offer to attend classes at Miracle Mandarin. Today's lesson: In a Restaurant.
Well, the things I CAN say in Chinese aren't really anything I would want to eat, but our instructor Emma Wang guides us down a list of things to remember when out scavenging for food. I CAN inquire about finding a bathroom and ask for a beverage (which seems to take care of most my needs). But should I have to rely on my Mandarin speaking skills, I would end up eating a lot of tofu and chow mein. Could be worse.
Like most good students, much of our language skills are learned on the street. Offering a distinct (and abrupt) BU YAO (Sort of like: Boo-yow - for added emphasis, use lots of head shaking and arm waving ... works like a charm) is used to fend off street vendors, beggars and anyone else you care to dispatch in a hurry. I still would love to learn a few phrases and today we will expand our vocabulary a bit more. Plus we learn a bit about north/south Chinese cuisine, as Emma is from the north. She explains how corn, a staple from the north, is considered a sign of poverty. We also talk about rising food prices and the division of economic classes, not unlike conversations we hold at home. The more I talk with people and watch life pass by, the more I see similarities rather than vast differences. And we ALL love KFC ...