Monday, May 25, 2009


I am now speaking Chinese with a 4 year-old's proficiency. I realized this yesterday when Ace and i were at Sanlitun for dinner. We were enjoying a burrito and nachos with a pitcher of mojitos (happy hour price!) on the outdoor patio of Luga's. This place has long served some of my favorite food in Beijing. Their chicken burrito is unparallelled and since i figured out they will add rice and black beans at no extra charge, i'm once again hooked. Plus, their patio and music selection are pretty great.

Anyway, so we're sitting outside and a little Chinese girl wanders into our booth. She's 4-ish. She's only a little shy but that doesn't last long. She's wearing a cute dress, two pigtails pointing out like horns, and her besandaled feet are covered in Beijing's filth. She doesn't mind. Normally when a child approaches you, money is their agenda, but not this girl. I say hello and she replies in kind. I take control of this fledgling conversation and burgeoning friendship by quizzing her on the only Chinese rhyme i know:
Hong deng ting, lu deng xing, huang deng liang le, deng yi deng
Red light stop, green light go, yellow light turned on, wait a bit.
Anyway, she gets most of them right, but she's convinced yellow is also Go. I keep telling her you have to wait on yellow lights, but she seems unimpressed. However, in reality, she's correct. In China, a yellow light means accelerate and lay on your horn. Actually, a red light sometimes means that too.

So yeah, i ask her where her parents are and she says their at home. We then spend about 10 minutes guessing her age. Although no matter what we guessed, the answer was always Bu gao su ni!... Not telling you! We never did figure it out, but we're pretty sure she was 4. She gave the same answer to What are you doing here?, What's your name?, and Would you like some of our Mojito?

So yeah, i'm officially able to communicate with 4 year-olds. I can't communicate with people my own age for any length of time, and children 7 or older still make me nervous, but 4 year-olds i can handle. Progress!


1 comment:

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