Monday, August 31, 2009

Chinese Riddle?

8/20/09: Bad day of Chinese: Today, I took a taxi home from the hotel where most of my friends’ were staying. The conversation with the friendly taxi driver started out okay. He flattered my Chinese, to which I responded that it was still very poor and that I had problems with many Chinese words. We talked for a few minutes about Chinese food and the price of Chinese apartments. And then, he asked me what I think might have been a riddle. He said, “What does this sentence mean in Chinese…then he said a rather long sentence in Chinese that had to do with studying English in a short time.” …only I had trouble understanding why he was asking me what a Chinese sentence meant? So, I thought he was asking for my opinion about the content of the sentence. I started to give him an answer to what I thought was, “How can a person study English well in a short period of time.” He said that I didn’t understand his meaning; then he complained how he was working very hard to help me understand his meaning, but still I didn’t understand it. “Sorry” I said to him. Then, I hoped he would just forget it, but he kept going on about how he was speaking so slowly and still I didn’t get it. So, I changed the subject and asked him some questions about his family. Then, he said some other stuff that I understood, only by this time, he was very skeptical of my ability to understand any Chinese, so he said, “You don’t understand, do you.” Only this time, I really did understand what he was saying, so I felt kind of annoyed. And furthermore, he was telling me information that I already knew—“you may have to cross the street to meet your friend.” I know! Mental note: repeatedly saying that someone does not understand you is probably not the best method to make friends or to motivate that person to try and understand you. Good-bye distressed taxi driver; Better luck tormenting some other foreigner with your silly riddle.

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