dimanche, décembre 12, 2010

Speak Mandarin When In China

Speak Mandarin

I will be moving to China with an advantage - I can speak Mandarin though of course it could do with some improvement. Think of how difficult it must be for those who couldn't.

On our way back from Shanghai, we had a little problem at the check-in counter at Pudong Airport. We wanted to sit together (of course) and they separated us because we had passports from different countries and my Singapore passport didn't carry my married name (incidentally that got Hub all upset - now he wants me to register our marriage in Singapore, hmm, to think that I've managed to avoid the issue for more than a decade, I'm incidentally very fond of my own sirname...).

We insisted (in English) so the girl at check-in walkie-talkied her colleague (in Mandarin, of course) :

Girl : I've a couple here who wants to sit together. Can I give them seats 3A and 3B?

Colleague : No, the problem is that 3A is spoilt. The TV doesn't work.

Girl : What if the client doesn't mind?

Me (interrupting in Mandarin) : Of course we mind. Why wouldn't we mind?

Girl was of course shocked and you can see it on her face. Why would she imagine that after paying more than 5000 euros for each ticket we would want to spend 13 hours on the plane without TV? And why would she imagine that I couldn' t speak Mandarin when I have a Chinese signature on my passport? And who did she think she was to make decisions for us without first consulting us?

Welcome to China. And to what awaits you if you do not speak Mandarin.

10 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Lotus, I think you look Thai becos you are tanned that is why she thinks you do not speak Mandarin.

Your husband would probably be taken for a ride if you were not around in retail shops, in taxis etc.

Be very alert & do not let them exploit you. The mainland Chinese have a set of values different from the universal ones that the rest of the world abides by & so in their daily lives, they apply those values & drive other people of the world crazy.

But, over time you will grow to appreciate the dynamism & can do spirit of this country.

But of course do get a family chauffeur as all most expats do including Spore families posted there. They need a job to feed their families in rural areas. Also, get the ayis, more than one is also good (Ah Yis=domestic helpers). Do not be shy about it. Same thing, they desperately need a job to feed their families in the rural areas. But there are good ayis & bad ayis.

Not sure which expat school you put your kids in, but hopefully its Not Spore International School as this is poorly managed & run by a supermarket chain here in Spore. I heard poor reviews about this school from a former Sporean colleague of mine who moved there with her family in 2003. She had to make quick decisions & find another expat school for her primary kids & forget about schooling them in the Spore system.

Beau Lotus a dit…

So we've understood that he'll have a chauffer-driven car that I may get to use from time to time. And I'll take taxis the rest of the time.

I've not visited the Singapore school. We will not ever live in Singapore so I do not see any reason to subject my children to its rigour. I also want them to go to a school that will have good standards in both Chinese and English - and not have them pick up Singlish much as I'm a fan of the "language".

I also believe in an all-rounded education so I want a school that'll offer many ECAs - sports, music, art...Besides, we do not have a problem with the school fees so there's no need to go for the Singapore International School which charges the lowest fees among the International Schools in Shanghai.

An a dit…

Wow... that's going to be so different than Italy! But that's good that you understand and speak the language. As a teenager, my family went to Taiwan for vacation, and I guess it was pretty obvious that my brother and I were from America, because there were a few times when we were without our parents and overheard people talking about us in Taiwanese, not thinking that we could understand it. But as teenagers we didn't really want to confront the adults so we didn't say anything to indicate that we understood.

Good luck finding a school and a home! That is pretty exciting.

Beau Lotus a dit…

Actually, many Chinese people tend to talk about other people in front of them like they were not there. :-)

We've found the schools, now we just need to find the home. Thanks!

K a dit…

are you going to stay in the pudong or puxi side? they each have their own merits and a wide range of housing. traffic can be congested, so factor that in for your kids' schedules (and your own). prices are displayed clearly in established shops and you can get receipts following your cab ride if transparency in these sorts of things bother you. food and grocery selection are truly international so you can cook up a storm (and continue posting your awesome recipes)

we enjoyed our stay in shanghai and learnt so much.

take care :) merry christmas to you and your family :) :)

Beau Lotus a dit…

Hi K, thanks for the x'mas greetings.

We will be staying at Pudong since Hub's office will be at Waigaoqiao.

I've asked for my 1st taxi ticket, bargained in a seedy shopping mall for souvenirs and 2 ski jackets, so I've been initiated! :-)

K a dit…

brava! i'm sure you'll do wonderfully! :)

Chick a dit…

I've been lagging so much with your blog... Pls invest in a proxy/VPN otherwise you aren't going to get your blogs in here and a lot more other websites.. Includg Youtube! You need China survivor crash course 101? :)

Beau Lotus a dit…

Sigh...I am old now, Chick. So a little less ganjiong. First I will go and check out Shanghai when I arrive, shop, eat, visit - and then I'll think about blogging about them. Will need a house and must receive my computer - the latter will be at sea for 2 months.

Then I'll worry about that VPN. Heard that you must buy it BEFORE arriving in China? Is that true?

My stupid computer doesn't seem capable of writing Chinese, that's another problem.

Chick a dit…

Best if you buy it before you go, as the website might be block. I bought mine from witopia - not bad. Don't even bother to search in Chinese, you probably can't find it (censored by lovely govt)! Honestly till now I still can't navigate the Chinese websites.