Pulsars, Plants, and Present Participles

'Journeys in Hong Kong and Beyond'

No Translation to Be Had

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you? I seem to have one almost every other evening. My apartment complex employees security guards… no, front desk reception… let’s just call them door-watchers. Combined these lovely people know a handful of English. Which, I should add, is better than my complete lack of Chinese. Anyway, every other evening or so I walk through the reception of my building and press the button for the elevator. And inevitably while I wait for my lift one of my girlfriends strikes up a conversation with me. I should note that they are not actually my girlfriends, (obviously) but Nance likes to tease me about it since they always buzz me into the building before I get a chance to punch in the code and they are all sweet old Chinese women. However one of these lovely old ladies in particular attempts to converse with me on a regular basis.  She will say something in Chinese and I will smile and nod, and then she will try to mime out what she means and I will continue to smile and nod. She definitely did not graduate from mime school, or any performing arts school for that matter. From our abundance of conversations I have gathered that she thinks I eat a lot, or at least that I am back from eating out. I’m really not sure. It’s nice that she tries, and quite honestly I should improve my nonexistent Chinese to the level of “oh I understood two words from all that.” But for now I am going to enjoy the fact that I live in an ex-British colony where English is sufficient and my little old girlfriend at reception knows not what I say and I know not what she says.

Fraser • 03/02/2015


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