When I'm with my coworkers, I can understand most of the Chinese I hear. Last night I went out and was the only Westerner in the joint. A friend danced. She took me to another bar, this one called 98 (Jiǔbāget it?), where everybody spoke Chinese. I understood almost nothing. Maybe three words. My Chinese is habitual, like the asking for ketchup, like the asking for a cold drink instead of a hot one. Contextual. Cigarette after cigarette passed my way. A Korean tried to explain to me, in Korean, why he regretted the tattoo of a dragon engulfing his left shoulder and pec, but I didn't understand that either, so he translated himself in Chinese, which my dancer friend further translated. People were afraid of him, she said he'd said. "Cheers" was said many times. What was I waiting around for?
Today I was asked to write an article on Five Colour City.
So much of talking seems to have to be stolen from others. I say almost nothing.