Friday, August 1, 2008

Small Victories

I'm at Jenny Lou's, the grocery store down the street, practically every day. I spend way too much money there. Cereal, for instance, ranges from about $5 a box to well over $10. Needless to say, we don't eat too much cereal anymore.

Anyway, they all seem to know me there. The manager, John, is a nice guy who speaks great English and always asks after my kids. Once, when I was having trouble getting a vendor in a neighboring store to refund my money for a broken toy, John took me over there, argued with the guy in Chinese for a minute, then said to me "he will give you your money now." And the guy did. Don't know what John said to him.

So I try out my Chinese on them all the time. At first, I just said things like "thanks" and "how much" and "excuse me." Then I got to where I could say "how are you?" and "today is very hot" and "do you have any more yogurt?" But still, my Chinese is fairly limited. This despite the fact that I've just hit my 1 year anniversary in China today. Somehow I assumed that, given the fact that I can speak Russian without too much trouble, Chinese would be a breeze.

Not so. One year later and I still struggle to be understood. But I'm still trying.

Yesterday I was in J Lo's, talking to one of my usual sales guys. Mid-conversation (if you can call it that), he paused, then said in English "Your Chinese.... it's... it's getting better."

I've been cheerful ever since. I'll take the smallest of compliments, whereever I can get it.

Happy Anniversary to me!


Jill said... [Reply]

Wow - I hear that Chinese is a difficult language to learn. Congrats on the great compliment!

Hope you're having fun there these days... it must be getting crowded! :)

A said... [Reply]

Oh I miss John and the Jennys crew - on a sour note though - did you know in the summer they sleep on the floor in the store? There used to be mattresses up high on top of the front fridge section - pushed back far so the foreigners could not see them...
I still shopped there though - what else could we do!?

Donna said... [Reply]

a - really? They sleep there? I'm going to look for those mattresses next time I'm there. I'm sometimes embarrassed by how we live in comparison with the guards and other locals, but - the floor? Really?

Please. Write your own stuff.