Monday, October 10, 2011

Almost Every Conversation I Have with Taxi Drivers in China

The following takes place several times a month:
(translated from the original Chinese)

Driver: where to?
Me: (my destination)
Driver: Your Chinese is really good!
Me: Oh, no, it's not.
Driver: Yeah, it is! How long have you been studying Chinese/been in China?
Me: about 2 years. (Optional long-winded explanation about my career)
Driver: Where are you from?
Me: The US.
Driver: Lengthy monologue about the difference between the US and China in the realm of culture, politics, economy, housing, family relationships, education system, food, or language.
Me: (during monologue) Well-meaning Chinese backchannel sounds (en, ah, oh, etc.)
Driver: (reaching the end of monologue) ... right?
Me: (smiling) Sorry, I can't understand clearly. My Chinese really isn't that good.

[Ideally, we have reached our destination by this point; otherwise, silence for the remainder of the ride.]

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