Friday, June 20, 2014

Cab Conversations, Continued

Today I encountered one of Beijing's chatty cab drivers. I could tell I was in for an experience when he corrected my pronunciation of my street -- Chuxiulu. I always say something that sounds like TWICHN-CHOO-LU. Actually, the real way is to say TWICHN-CHEEYU-LU. See the difference? Me neither.

Anyway, after he corrected me and I apologized for my poor Chinese, the questions began. (This is a conversation all in Chinese, so apologies for the parts where I half imagine where the conversation is going.)

Where are you from? he asks. It's always the first question.
"America," I say. "Of course."
"But where in America?" he asks. "I have a sister living in America."
"Where?" I ask.
"Luo shan ji," he says. (It's not until now that I figured out that Luo shan ji is Los Angeles.)
"I live in Washington," I say.
"Shenme?" he says. What?
"The capital," I say. (Jing!) "Obama!"
OBAMA! he responds.
"Oh, do you like Obama?" I ask.
"No," he responds. "Do you?"
"Yes," I answer. "Why don't you?"
(Here he mutters something about other countries. It's the place where my language abilities fail me. Dear UN -- not ready for translation work yet.)
"I like Old Bush," he says. (Lao Bush, which is what the Chinese call HW Bush.)
"Do you like Xiao Bush?" I ask (Little Bush, or W).
"No," he says.
"Me neither!" I say. We laugh companionably.
"Do you have children?" he asks.
"Yes, a son and a daughter," I say.
That gets me the thumbs up and a big "hao!"
"Do you have a husband?" he asks.
"Yes," I respond. "He's a journalist." (Keep in mind that my natural tendency to volunteer information to complete strangers is abetted by my limited vocabulary. If I know a word, I will use it, sometimes occasionally to ill effect. But you all know that about me.)
"Where are your children?" the cab driver asks. "America?"
Now, I realize the conversation is getting slightly complicated.
"No, my son is in Beijing. He's studying Chinese," I say.
"Hao!" he says. "And your daughter is in America?"
"No, she's also in Beijing. She's working," I say.
This so suitably impresses the cab driver that he runs out of questions for me and we drive along nearly mowing down pedestrians in companionable silence again.

When I get home, I realize that my ayi has cleaned and then left me a half-warm and overly sweetened cup of tea to greet my arrival.

These are the nice things about life in Beijing. I'll end with a few photos from the week.
Sunflowers in the alley.
Hiking to a water hole.

Nothing more fun than photobombing Danielle.
A butterfly landed on my shoe. That's good luck, right?
You don't get days much nicer than this.


  1. beautiful again! esp the sunflowers and butterfly on your shoe!

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