Sunday, August 14, 2005

Humdrum life

You haven't seen a post for a week, because last week didn't have much of note, just the usual going to class, hanging out with Hiyoshi and Kieko, etc. I did have quite a good time Wednesday evening going with Guoxi to see the Air Force band perferm at the National Music Hall at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. When Guoxi invited me along, I didn't expect that I would enjoy it as much as I did. The band's best performance, for me, was the Nutcracker, which I love.

And then on Friday night Caroline arrived! I met her in May 2002 when I came here for my first Wu Bai & China Blue concert. She's from Scotland and was here studying and was also a Wu Bai fan. We've kept in touch ever since, and she'd gone back to Scotland in December 2002 to complete her studies there. Now she's taken a job with Hess English school and has returned to the home of her heart. She got in quite late on Friday, but even after a flight (with two stops/layovers) of almost 24 hours, she still wanted to get out and about a little. We ended up going to Danshui and walking around. The wind was pretty fierce, due to another tropical storm that was whipping things up, but at least it was cooler than usual. We missed the last train (midnight) and had to take a taxi back to my place, where we stayed up chatting and watching some Wu Bai & China Blue music videos :)

Last night Caroline and I met up with Katsu, one of her friends from her school days. He's half Japanese, half Taiwanese, and he was working at a great little restaurant (might actually be part owner of it) called Kushiyaki. Katsu treated us to some yummy food, chunks of beef and lamb and whole prawns on skewers, tempura squid, bell pepper chunks filled with savory meat, pao cai (similar to kimchee but not quite Korean), and something I couldn't give a name to but was incredibly tasty. All this food, along with many, many bottles of Taiwan beer made for a fun evening.

What made me happiest was that I actually understood 99% of the Chinese conversation going on around me, and I understood it when people talked to me! I've been worried that I still don't usually understand people when they start talking to me, thinking I'm just not doing very well with the language, but this was a piece of cake. And the Chinese speakers at the restaurant (Katsu, the cook, a girl whose name I've forgotten, some of the customers) all understood me just fine. When I first asked them to speak just a little slower for me, they told me the reason they were speaking so quickly was because I was, so they figured I was fluent. Once they slowed down just a tad, no problem. So hey, yeah, I'm getting it! I think maybe it's just when people speak to me unexpectedly that my brain refuses to process it, like in the stores and such. Or if they're going at it a mile a minute and peppering their speech with Taiwanese words as well as standard Mandarin, like so many of my friends do. I think that will take more than five months to get used to.

And guess what? No hangover this morning, despite the beer ;)


Anonymous said...

Good for you Marla. Gee, five months have gone by quickly. It seems just yesterday you were leaving for Taipei. Keep up the good work.

Alice said...

Hey Marla, that is so cool that you understand so much! You do talk fast, you know. Hopefully one of these days I'll get to visit.