At the back of the hill

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Saturday, April 07, 2018


There are times when the Chinese are entirely daft, damned well baffling. Well, actually, that would be the Toishanese, from near Canton. Cantonese people. I don't know about Mandarin-speakers, as I seldom associate with them, and the Shanghainese think in blithering neutralities.
Shan't even mention the Hokiens and the Hakka.
Cantonese people have a gift for grand operatic behaviours, all round weirdness, and a tendency toward complexity.

For example, an outraged rhetorical question from the apartment mate: "what kind of idiot brings a zither to a hunting party?"

This was not pursuant anything we had previously discussed, nor did I have a clue what she was on about. It was how she greeted me upon my return from Marin today. The question came out of the middle of nothing.

"What kind of idiot brings a zither to a hunting party?"

Umm, I should know the explanation for such a thing? Does it concern me?

Apparently she had been watching a movie during the afternoon.
Which featured an entirely Caucasian cast.
I am a white person.

In my defense, I must mention that I am not German, and seldom think in that language. So I have no idea what kind of idiot brings a zither to a hunting party. Evenso it was an enjoyable movie.
Despite the ridiculous singing.
She says.

That's all the information I have. It took patience and guile to gather this much. And the conversation was fractured. I am Caucasian, ergo I know about zithers, and something about that is my fault.
The German word for 'zither' is 'zither'.
In case you were wondering.

你問我? 我點知啦吓?

The same berserk "logic" shaped the discussion of a party of Toishanese gentlemen at the table near me yesterday afternoon. Which was peppered with "lo mo" and "ma ge haai", as well as "hiu", that being the Toishanese pronunciation of the copulative verb. I knew something was up when the waitress was abstracted, so much so that she brought me the wrong dish.
I had asked for 涼瓜排骨飯 ('leung gwaa paai gwat faan'), but what ended up being served to me was 茄子班球飯 ('ke ji paan kau faan').
No matter. I was too intent on listening to object.
As indeed so was she.

As conversations go, it was a trainwreck. Or a traffic accident involving clown cars. Rabid clowns. Loud. Lyrical. The waitress undoubtedly understood every word, as Toishanese is her native language.
I barely got the gist of it, but my meal was excellent.
Dinner plus a floor show.
Can't beat that.

I do rather wish I had gotten the right food, though, because I was looking forward to bitter melon and spare ribs over rice.
Instead of eggplant and fish.


As I mentioned, I am not German. Nor am I Cantonese, and most definitely not Toishanese. I am Dutch (Dutch American), and I look like I should have all the answers. That is all.

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