Wednesday, November 06, 2019


While they're rebuilding Willie 'woo woo' Wong playground the rats there are flourishing. When I got off the bus last night and lit up, I could see ten or more of the creatures scurrying around near the end of Hang Ah Street. Fittingly I was smoking "the pipe for watching rats in Spofford Alley".
One of several briars that I associate with Chinatown.

[Why are some briar pipes linked with that neighborhood? Well, probably a manifestation of neurosis. But I've smoked them there during wonderful days, and still remember how much pleasure I had, the quiet moods, the light and shadow, and certain events, faces, things. Smoking those pipes in that neighborhood seems so right. Iridescent.]

Earlier yesterday while wandering around I loaded up the Gresham Giant (sandblast finish, Canadian shape), a pipe linked in my mind with Beckett Street (白話轉街 'paak waa juen kai') which runs past Ping Yuen.

At present I hang around Chinatown a lot more than I used to when I lived in North Beach. Even though after work I always ended up at a café, swilling coffee while reading the newspapers. Often at the old Ping Yuen Bakery (平園咖啡店 'ping yuen ga fei dim') on Jackson Street, with The San Francisco Chronicle, The Examiner, and two or three Chinese Newspapers: 星島日報 ('sing dou yat pou'), 國際日報('gwok jai yat pou'), and the 金山時報 ('gam saan si pou'). Getting zotsed to the gills on coffee refills was heaven.

Ping Yuen Bakery closed years ago, and I miss it. These days I go to New Hollywood Bakery and Restaurant (荷李活茶餐廳) on Pacific a lot; good atmosphere, excellent milk tea and lo po beng.

There are several places I like in C'town.
Regular haunts, where I'm invisible.

I am more conscious of being an oddity now than I was then. A white dude who speaks Cantonese is unusual, but in those days I didn't realize that. And back then my speech was more infected with dictionary-learned Mandarin pronunciations. I was probably quite unintelligible.

This is relevant because I am still learning.

Examples of new vocabulary:

蜘蛛 ('ji jyu'): spider.
蜘蛛網 ('ji jyu mong'): spider web.
網 ('mong'): the internet.
Y5 ('waai faai'): WiFi.
網癮 ('mong yan'): internet addiction.
因特網服務提供商 ('yan dak mong fuk mou gong seung'): internet service provider. 因特 is pronounced "yin te" in Mandarin, as in the word internet. Mostly useless in Cantonese; 網服務 ('mong fuk mou') indicates internet service adequately.

咖喱魷魚 ('gaa lei yau yue'): curried squid.
乾咖喱 ('gon gaa lei'): dry curry.
印尼式乾咖喱 ('yan nei sik gon gaa lei'): Indonesian style dry curry, probably "rendang" or something very similar.
印度酸辣咖喱 ('yan dou suen laat gaa lei'): Indian sour hot curry; description of vindaloo.
酸咖喱猪肉 ('suen gaa lei chyu yiuk'): sour curried pork; vindaloo.

參巴醬 ('saam baa jeung'): sambal. Unfortunately, sambal is not yet a concept for Cantonese people. Which is a pity, because everything goes with sambal. Especially Portuguese Chicken rice. But just ask for 辣椒醬 ('laat jiu jeung'; hot pepper sauce) or 是拉差 ('si laai chaa'; Sriracha).

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