My dinner with Yang Kai
Trip Start Feb 24, 2006
10Trip End Mar 04, 2006
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Kai knows how much I hate fish, and with today's smoked herring episode still fresh in our minds (hey, we both thought it was beef at first) he tries to order stuff without it. A doomed effort, really. They'll get fish in there somehow. See those little lumps in the fried rice? Fish.
From the ancient phrase book purchased on the street, I discover the word for coat in Mandarin is pronounced dah-yee. Out of the blue I say to him "Kai, I wanna buy a dah-yee,"
This earns a most puzzled expression
"Ah, what is dah-yee?"
"Maybe I'm not pronouncing it right - 'I wanna buy a dtah-yee."
"No goddammit, a dah-yee!"
"Oh, a coat!"
"Yes, a coat!"
"Why didn't you say so?"
Kai's half of the game goes like this - "Luke, what means English phrase 'sleep like log?'
I then explain that it means to sleep deeply.
"Ah! What means English phrase 'sleeps with fishes?'
Now I think he's just messing with me.
Kai will also randomly translate signs. If I pause ever so slightly over a sign, he'll translate it for me
"Sign says: 'Scene of food riot.'"
"Says 'New Lower Price.'"
"Pay Taxes Promptly"
I pause at a Fire Exit sign that is not painted red. Yang Kai responds 'Beware of vendors selling imitation goods.'"
Now I know he's messing with me.
After a particularly challenging morning commute, I emerge from the taxi, briefcase in hand, still shaking from another near-death experience. Hard to believe some people find enlightenment this way.
Kai pays the driver, then walks beside me to the Security point.
He asks, "Luke, I know who Jesus H
This is a test. Teaching swear words to an earnest student of English can provide many hours of cheap entertainment, but in the end it just makes the speaker sound stupid. It's also dangerous.
"Those were some of His disciples."
"'Stupid Jerk' is one of Jesus' disciples?"
"Kai, I'm really not comfortable discussing my religious beliefs with a co-worker."
Back at the restaurant, it's time to pay up and go. The cigarette smoke from 500 lungs is making me sneeze, you couldn't cram one more person in this room with a pile driver and Kai wants to go to a tea shop.
Across the crowded room, our eyes met. An American man and wife being escorted to their table by a hostess in an orange kimono. The hostess also carries a screeching walkie-talkie.
They are the first Americans I've seen in days.
The woman sees me first, and waves
'Hey, you're American!'
'Look at all these Chinese people!'
'Isn't this a hoot?'
'Yeah, but what are you going to do?'
Ships that pass in the night, man.