Sunday, February 19, 2012


I arrived back in China two nights ago, but it took me until noon today to actually get home.  Since there's no airport in my town, I flew into Beijing and waited 23 hours for the next train to Rizhao and then spent 12 hours on the train and now I'm here.  Hooray!

Between taxis and trains, I've spent a good bit of time chatting with Chinese folks in the last few days and thought it might be fun to translate a few conversations.

Alison:  I need to go to this place.  <shows business card>
Cabbie #1:   jskhfkjhjhew
Alison:  I'm sorry, I don't understand.
Cabbie #1:  eowiureiwfjdsk

So that conversation was a bit of a bust.  His accent was totally beyond my comprehension, which happens sometimes.  Another time, I was answering a cab driver's questions about my life and work in China.  Soon the conversation turned to the inevitable topic of my boyfriend (who, although he does not exist, would be flattered to know how much he comes up in my conversations in Asia).

Cabbie #2:  Maybe you can find a Chinese boyfriend.
Alison:  I think the cultures are too different.  Maybe it would be better for me to find an American boyfriend.
Cabbie #2:  It's very common for Americans to date Chinese!  American men find Chinese wives.  American women find Chinese husbands.  Many, many people do this.
Alison:  Yes, there are many people who do this.  <Side note: I hear of many Western men dating Chinese women but almost never hear of the reverse.>
Cabbie #2:  What year were you born in?
Alison:  1984.
Cabbie #2:  You should find a boyfriend.

We talked on other topics for awhile.  Then, as I was getting out of the cab, he told me he hoped I find a very good boyfriend soon.  Here's another conversation with the same guy:

Alison:  Is it difficult to drive a taxi in Beijing?
Cabbie #2:  Not difficult, but very tiring.
Alison:  What time do you start work?
Cabbie #2:  From 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day.  Very tiring.

I hear this a lot from taxi drivers.  They frequently ask me my salary and I usually ask them the same question back.  It turns out that we often make about the same salary, but they work like 12 hours a day every day, while I'm blessed with a much easier schedule.

While I was on the train this morning, one of the female staff was lingering around my berth and looking at me.  Finally I asked her what was up, and she sat on the bunk and started talking to me.  Her English was pretty good and this conversation was about half in each language.

Train worker:  Where are you from?
Alison:  America.
Train worker:  I know some people from America.  They believe in God.
Alison:  Are they Christians?
Train worker:  Yes.  Are you a Christian?
Alison:  Yes.
Train worker:  So you became a Christian?
Alison:  Yes, since I was a child.  I think it is very good to believe in God.

She said she had been approached by an American lady on a bus who started asking her about her beliefs and later introduced her to some other American friends who continued the discussion.  Later in the conversation, she got off on a long tangent about race:

Train worker:  I don't like black people. 
Alison:  What?  You should like all people.
Train worker:  Black people have a bad character.  They like to use force.
Alison:  I think white people, black people, yellow people all have good and bad.  We can't say that one is better than the other.  <Here my Chinese didn't allow me to say anything more sophisticated.>
Train worker:  I like Americans.  But I don't like ones that came from other places.  I only like English Americans.
Alison:  In America, we think it is good to have many kinds of people mixed together, like a big soup.
Train worker:  I like white people.

I was a little at a loss.  I thought I ought to try to point out that this is a racist view, but I have no idea how to say that in Chinese.  So I had her look up the word "racism" on her pocket Chinese-English dictionary, but it didn't come up.  Alas.  Later we exchanged numbers and I got off the train.

My taxi driver from the train station to my apartment was quite nice and chatty.  We talked about the usual topics -- where I'm from, what I do in China, how long I've lived here, and how I studied Chinese.  I asked my usual questions -- Are you local?  Do you like living here?  How did you learn English?  (He remembered some from high school, which is cool because most people forget it.)

Anyway, there's your window into my world for today.  Tomorrow I'll probably start posting a few photos from winter holiday.

1 comment:

  1. all in chinese!? very nice, indeed. :-) and so interesting too!