I always feel a certainly indulgence for this country, its people and their culture.
I love the exotic layering, the intricacies of their carving, the variety of plants, and the plethora of edible delicacies. However, until this recent visit I was unable to understand their language or communicate . . . .this lack of understanding meant there was a constant film of suspicion and hesitation, that we could never penetrate with sign language (Something we managed with positive and amusing results in Italy . . . but failed at, here in China)
For the past 6 months Brianna has been studying Chinese here at the University of Fudan, just outside Shanghai.
I have been full of admiration and highly amused when she has entered into exuberant arguments with the occasional dishonest taxi driver, who thinks he can hoodwink the tourists (us), or caught people discussing us not knowing Brianna understands their conversation. . . . until she answers their inquiry . . . or asks them a question, in mandarin.
The result of these exchanges is the enjoyable attribute of discovering the people’s delightful quick humor, interests and some of their opinions. . . qualities not obvious or accessible, on previous visits.
On numerous occasions we have approached, or been approached by what appears to be stern faced individuals who appear to be obstinate, troublesome and rude. However, with the introduction of Brianna’s use of Mandarin, these facades miraculously disappear, Instantly replaced by radiant warm smiles.
Consequently we have spent many pleasant occasions exchanging ideas, opinions and information with people we meet . . . . I also think knowing we have 5 weeks, allows us the freedom of leisure and time to spend on being friendly.
.. . . . Also if I am honest, I must admit, this positive sentiment may be heightened by the resulting decrease in the asking price of whatever it is we are admiring . . .
Once Brianna starts a fluent and friendly conversation . . . Items that were originally quoted as being of an asking price of say Y500 will be reduced to Y100, with a smile and no uncomfortable haggling or serious reluctance . . . . come on!, who could not appreciate such miraculous results? . . . .. . . especially when the object of our desire is a new brush . . . . . . ceramics, jewellery, books, carvings, paints, paper cut outs . . . . . Brianna has a blog where she posts her thoughts - a good read www.poiseonarrows.blogspot.com
She has managed . . . relentlessly studied/ labored over . . . 5 subjects, to develop a proficiency in Mandarin. . .(to the extent whereby, if I am not looking, I think she is another Chinese person . . . . a wee bit disconcerting considering our sir name is – LEE )
mmmmmm! Yes, we need a huge reduction to acquire the many, many, many 'things' we covet.