Friday, December 10, 2004


I had more Cantonese practice than usual yesterday. Firstly, I had to go to our main office for a meeting about the staff Christmas party. I was annoyed about wasting most of the afternoon in a useless meeting and then even more annoyed when the meeting was held in Cantonese! I could understand just enough to figure out that there was nothing that couldn't have been explained in a brief email.

After work I had been invited out to dinner with Daisy's mum and Daisy's aunt and uncle who have come from China for a family wedding. We did very well despite the language barrier. None of them speak English and the aunt and the uncle don't even speak Cantonese! To compensate for this, we were continually clinking our glasses together (tea for me, beer for them) in silent toasts.

After dinner I took them for dessert in a new store that has opened not so far from home. It's actually a 27 year old family business but it has just relocated from To Kwa Wan to Jordan. An old lady makes the dessert, her daughter serves tables and her grandaughter is often on the cash register. To our surprise, the family spoke the same local dialect as Daisy's relatives and we got a bonus free dessert!

As I despaired of my pathetic Cantonese ability yesterday I also realised that I am hardly speaking Hindi these days, despite the large number of Hindi speaking clients we have at work. After a little thought I realised I have been subconsciously choosing to speak English to maintain a kind of 'professional distance'. It makes sense but it's also a little sad.

No comments: