Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It Always Feels Like I'm Writing When I Can Understand Only So Little

I spent much of the day with Hanna. We went to one of the shopping centers where you can haggle. Holding up a pair of earrings, I asked a saleswoman, "{Do these look good?}" She replied that they looked nice on me indeed and indicated a necklace to go with it. As Hanna and I walked down the rows, people yelled out their English hellos in an effort to attract our attention. Sometimes "Please come in" was added. One shirt read, "Telling you is only." I turned it over, but there wasn't anything more printed. "{What does this mean?}" I asked. The saleswoman here responded by asking me, in Chinese, whether it was raining. Even though I was carrying an umbrella, I didn't realize she was talking to me. "{Is it raining?}" she asked again. She switched to English: "You know: rain, r-a-i-n." In Chinese, I told her no but maybe it would later. On a table in the middle of a stall a little ways down, two fish swam in their tiny tank. While Hanna looked at shirts, I regarded the fish, wanting them to jump out of their home. "{I'll sell them to you for two yuan,}" one two saleswomen said. They both laughed. "{He understands you,}" Hanna told them. Further along, we came upon a girl as she did several cartwheels. "{Very nice,}" I told her. She ran and clutched her mother, who tried to get her to speak English with me. Instead, the girl did three more cartwheels and then returned to her mother. Outside, people were burning paper money for their dead ancestors. Today was July 15, according to the lunar calendar: Ghost Day.

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