Speak Chinese? No, not so much.

I was chatting away with some very friendly Chinese folk today over lunch. They were yakking away in rapid Chinese. I swear their mouths were nearly exploding from the speed. I was there, too, yarning on in English. 
There was no comprehension. Nothing. 
Yet we were all laughing away and having a fabulous time.
Its extremely liberating to wonder around a country with no idea what the people or signs or voices in the railway stations are telling you. 
Since realising that Mandarin is exceptionally difficult to grasp, I have loosened up about the language barrier. I blunder along, trying unsuccessfully to make myself understood. Mostly I treat the characters as I do in Australia, theyre best ignored. Its better for the self−esteem.
What is truly fantastic about understanding none of the language is how effective sign language becomes. I can successfully mime the easy stuff, such as what is your job, plus some more advanced mimes, such as what breed of pidgeon are we eating. Asking people to take a photo of me is easier than playing in mud.
But not everyone can agree on what is the best way to ask someone where they bought the good−looking noodles, so I have run into a few issues.
Today, for instance, as I was chatting away with the friendly restauranteur, I understood the word how (good) only. And I’m fairly certain they only knew hello. I was fine with that, but the nice man was getting a bit frustrated. He really wanted to know what I did for a crust. So, to make it easy for me, the silly Western girl who cannot speak Chinese, he says hell write it down.
Well, this is just great, I think, as he begins spewing Chinese symbols onto the page. Itd be easier to comprehend physics.
Ive been in China for four days now and, frankly, I had expected to be fluent by now. Ill keep trying.
And in the meantime, Ill keep wandering through this beautiful country with only my smile as a communication tool. I feel vulnerable. But the best part about the situation is the lack of expectations. I never know whats around the corner.
I went for a stroll today through a random park and ended up finding a zoo.Huh? It had a bear and deer and peacocks and one very cranky monkey. I was just expecting trees. And then I found a beautiful heritage bridge.
So, the language barrier, it aint so bad, I reckon.

3 thoughts on “Speak Chinese? No, not so much.

  1. Are you trying to make us aware of communication challenges by using a different font? If so it has worked , but very pleased you are rising to the challenge. Maybe you need to look for a childs picture book and cut out the pictures Love Jan

  2. Penny that font is a challenge!
    I would love to see you miming the question of what breed of piigeon you are eating!!

  3. Maybe if you had brought some clothing with Olympic rings, they would have re-discovered the English they proudly spouted in 2008 – or perhaps that was only in Beijing. I’m sure you will find out eventually.

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