Thursday, July 29, 2021


Being conversationally somewhat able in Cantonese, people assume that I must have lots of Chinese friends. Which actually I don't. People with social stiffness (Aspergers) don't often have many friends in any case. And as my Cantonese is not fluent, real conversations are nearly impossible. So I do know a fair number of people in Chinatown, but the Cantonese people with whom I get along best are the ladies who work in bakeries or restaurants.

1) A sparkling young woman at a chachanteng who has a sense of humour and a nice laughing face. And, when irritated, a tongue. Plus short tolerance for sappy Mandarin ballads, often deciding "well that's enough of that crap", and switching the screen to Canto-pop.

2) A small elderly woman who always greets me when I walk into the bakery, and is concerned for my wellbeing. Though I worry about her instead; how will she fare when she can no longer work? Will there be a retirement? Any income?

3) Two ladies at another bakery. Who know that I had health issues, and are kind and patient.
I get a feeling of community there, but I suspect that's not unusual; several older people are among the regulars. The owner is a decent man, and employs equally decent people.

4) The daughter of the proprietess at another place, who has taken over from her mom and has kept the place running during the pandemic. I haven't seen her mom in nearly two years.

5) A grandmother working the counter at an establishment where other relatives all work also. Grumpy, but decent.

Except for that last place, the common denominator is HK milk tea.

I'm afraid I don't know any of their names. We've never actually introduced ourselves, and even their surnames are a blank spot for me. Friendly greetings, some expressions of mutual goodwill and good wishes at times, enquiries about well-being.

The Cantonese people I actually know by name all speak English as their mothertongue, and most of them were born here. If they speak any Chinese, it's Toisanese.
And usually not very fluently.

There are also two old ladies in my neighborhood, both of whom live one block over, in different directions. Surreptitious cigarette auntie, whose kinfolk probably don't know she smokes, and auntie with the cheerful pistachio-hued hat doing her morning walkies every day.
Nodding aquaintance, not actually conversational much.

Realistically, what would we talk about?
I'm rather a bore, myself.

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