December 12, 2003

Sometimes, it is good to tell a lie

I am in my favourite cafe in Shamian Dao. They have tables out in the open, right next to the river. I often end up here reading, writing, or just watching the glowing boats go by. The people working here have become friends. One girl asks me for a favour. She had received a text message from a foreign admirer she had met earlier in the day and she wanted me to translate. I try with my terrible spoken Chinese.

He is asking Can I meet you tomorrow”?
The girl (in horror): Bu yao!! (don’t want). She adds something else which I do not understand, but I get the clue that she strongly does not want to meet the man outside of the cafe.
Now, I have to message back to the hopeful man on the other side. I toned down her response and typed in Sorry! Very busy tmrw…cannot meet..”.

I see this one item hot coke with ginger” in their menu. It looks like a translation error. Once in a hotel in Zigong, a city in Sichuan, we found a dish - fried Indian with rice. Out of curiosity, I ordered the hot coke with ginger” drink. It turned out to be hot coke with ginger. It was not that bad. It supposedly cures cold.

Cafe by the river on Shamian Dao

The nice thing about this cafe is that they let me stay well past the closing time. Jenny, the ever-smiling young woman who runs the place, dropped by for a chat. She is one of those youthful, bright-eyed people you meet all across China, working and studying part-time some language, management or IT subjects. We talked about her job, her school, my travels, etc.

I ask Jenny about her childhood days and childhood friends. She tells me about learning English phrases via foreign cartoons on TV and later enacting the scenes with her friends. Jenny stares at the river. I can tell that she is thinking of her hometown. She says that she will go home for the new year and I should come and visit her. She will show me all her childhood places. She asks me if I have been to her hometown Guilin before. Guilin was a city I visited a few years back when I came to China for the first time. I am not sure if I will be in China around the new year but nothing would be more interesting than hearing Jenny’s childhood stories. I lie Guilin, oh I have never been there. It is in Yunnan province right?”


China People Guangzhou


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