At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


The first time I heard Shanghainese being spoken, I thought it was Russians talking Japanese. Then I saw the speakers, and became convinced they were Japanese talking Russian.
And swearing in Tungusic.

Shanghainese is not a mellifluous language.

If there are Shanghainese in the restaurant, it is best to sit at the opposite end of the room from them. Or at least six tables away. You will still be able to "enjoy" their conversation from that distance.

My table was next to theirs.

After nearly jumping out of my seat the first few times one of them said something, I started observing them out of the corners of my eyes. Not only for the forewarning, but also to see how they acted toward each other. It became apparent that despite the snarling and growling they were not only on very good terms, but actually fond of each other. Shanghainese can at times sound like a death-battle between infuriated soda water siphons, so you really do need to look at the people making those sounds in order to figure out whether it's an argument about Donald Trump, OR the gentle kissing of two butterflies drifting languorously around the same red, red rose.

I really wanted to listen in on the four Cantonese-speaking old ladies across the way -- they were noshing on seafood, a bright green vegetable, and noodles -- but the Shanghainese were between me and them.

I do not understand the Shanghainese language.

What I did notice was that the old gentleman ate very elegantly. His mastery of chopsticks, the grace with which he wielded them, and the sheer temperance of his motions, were at complete odds with the reptile space alien snarls coming out of his mouth. The famous actress Maggie Cheung (張曼玉 'cheung maan yuk') speaks Shanghainese, but thank heavens almost every word she has ever said on-screen has been in Cantonese. She never sounded like a daemon was trying to claw its way out of her thorax.

By contrast, all of the more southerly tongues I have been exposed to sound sweeter. Toishanese, Hokkien, Teochew, Hoilam; they are all lovable distant relatives of Cantonese. By no means entirely intelligible.....
But altogether more like a civilized human tongue.

Most Mandarin still sounds like crap, though.

I'm just sayin'.


Shan't mention which cha-chanteng it was. That is for you to figure out. One of the waitresses has a face that reflects an innocent world-weary wickedness. I'm guessing her kids did that to her. It's attractive, like all faces which show intelligence. Her two co-workers are prettier, but just aren't nearly as attractive. She's the one with the brains.

Baked Portuguese chicken rice with splurks and squoodles of Sriracha chili sauce, a hot cup of yuen-yeung, and afterwards a walk down to the park to see the parrots. Followed by framboise-truffe ice-cream when I got home.
If your freezer does not have ice-cream, you're doing it wrong.

One of the other customers was an old gentleman with a very young girlfriend; he's well over seventy, she's only in her forties. We recognized each other as he was leaving. Nei ho, nei ho. Friendly nods.
I know him from another place that has milk-tea.
They're a sweet half-old couple.

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All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



  • At 8:33 AM, Anonymous e-kvetcher said…

    Completely off topic, but so good!

  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    "Sadly there isn’t, and there hasn’t ever been, a law against being an arsehole."

    So true, so true.

    A great read. I have bookmarked it for further reference


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