Tuesday, August 15, 2023


A few years ago I realized that my Cantonese vocabulary lacked certain key words, which in the Chinatown context might prove important some day. That happened was while I was the mute observer to EMTs dealing with an old fellow who had collapsed on the pavement.
I knew that I would be of no help whatsoever.

Why, I couldn't even ask him if existential angst was key to his keeling over!

[Existential angst: 存在焦慮 ('chuen joi jiu loi'). The problem with this phrase is that it does not occur in daily conversation, and given my pronunciation, it might seem like I'm asking about recurring bananas in his life.]

The EMTs didn't speak Cantonese at all. But they probably tried asking him about conditions or pills that were a possible contributing factor while prodding him with the necessary devices and strapping him onto a gurney for transport to the emergency room.

Quite logically, when I got back home I looked up certain terminology: Malaria (瘧疾 'yuek jat'), plasmodium (瘧原蟲 'yuek yuen chung'), acute (急性 'gap sing'), parasite (寄生蟲 'gai saang chung'), infectious disease (傳染病 'chuen yim beng'), anopheles mosquito (瘧蚊 'yuek man'). These words are very useful!

But I may have gotten focussed in the wrong direction.
Gout. Should've concentrated on gout.
痛風病 ('tung fung beng').
Painful wind.
Now, the reason all this is relevant is that I have a doctor's appointment this morning, and for some weird bug up my gand I'm taking the pipe pictured above with me. It's the pipe I was smoking when the old gentleman keeled over, and it reminds me of words.

One should always go in to a medical appointment prepared with the right words (existential angst: 存在焦慮 ('chuen joi jiu loi', malaria: 瘧疾 'yuek jat', gout: 痛風病 'tung fung beng') and an appropriate emergency device (big pipe: 大嘅煙斗 'taai ge yin dou').

It's what a boyscout would do.

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