Sunday, November 19, 2006

Conversations with Myself

As things remain well censured in the three-dot cybercensorship which is big C e-China, I sadly can't respond to you if you leave a comment here. Happy to receive your comments, tho, and look forward to more of them. The continuing e-saga and relatively boring dramalogue of me and you who read me and who? On to less confusing subjects...

When I have to traverse the city, which is occasionally, this brings me into unmediated (read: without Angela) contact with Chinese people. I only know a handful of words and phrases in Chinese. Almost no one understands me, especially starting from my neighborhood which is really in a suburb of Beijing on the western outskirts of the city. It's difficult to order food without a point-n-cluck photo menu. In other words, there aren't so many English speaking types around. Nevertheless, movement is necessary, with or without my language bodyguard.

So I have these conversations with myself. I find myself talking to Chinese people who don't understand me, particularly when my position is about to be compromised, like when I have to get on a bus. "We're not going to leave without you," I say over my shoulder to the man who's trying to push past me to get on the bus. "Chill!" He says something to me in Chinese. Neither of us look very happy about it.

In a taxi, I usually know my destination, but can't go beyond that, which is where it usually goes after stating something with any amount of precision. I'm pretty good at saying one or two words together but after that I'm useless.

Other times (they're not all bad), in the elevator, for example, I can have a conversation with someone, or something like a conversation. Mine in English and the other in Chinese, neither of us understanding anything beyond our best intentions, but we do it with a smile. Often, a number of people will talk about me, lots of head nodding and gesticulating until one of them turns and pitches an interrogative at me. When we reach the ground floor, the door opens and we go our different directions.

2 comments:

Michael Bogue said...

Seen any execution vans? Are they tourist attractions or not?

Bob said...

ah, yes... unblocked as of this moment... how long will it last? enough for me to post this comment, at least...

i'm not sure how to respond to the above message... my initial response is that it's fairly typical to hear such comments... certainly, living in China has brought much closer to political issues... previously, i hadn't considered myself overtly so... and, well, free speech has become an issue... beyond that... you must judge for yourself...