Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentines Day

Just a title anything but meaningful, but at least most people will know that when I am writing these lines it is Feb 14th. And that yesterday we started the term again, back from these two weeks of holidays for Chinese New Year + Lantern Festival = Spring Festival.
Jenny went to work this morning. I was home alone, with the washing machine on, doing some house cleaning, when I noticed that there was water leaking from the ceiling of the bathroom. Far from panicking, I called Jenny at work and asked her what to do :P She told me how to contact the guards and tell them to come home, what I diligently did. Once the guard came and I showed him the leak, he brought the service guys, who started dismantling the fake ceiling. At ona stage one of them asked me for something, pointing at his head and speaking Chinese... What to do? I didn't understand what he wanted, he didn't know how to type in pinyin (phonetical Chinese) in the computer so that I could look up in my dictionary, and Jenny's phone was engaged. I started thinking...
Okay, he can be asking me for three kind of things:
1. Logical things for his task that he expects me to have at home: but pointing to his head as if he was losing a bolt? Maybe a screwdriver? Scissors (as for cutting hair)? the telephone? Nope.
2. Logical things for his task but that he shouldn't be expecting me to have at home: a construction helmet maybe? Nope
3. Things that he can expect me to have at home, but that are not related to his task: a comb? Maybe some shampoo (you never know)? Nope
Eventually he managed to draw it, and it was a simple hairdryer... But if he had followed his movements with the noise of a hairdryer, I would have understood at once... And this short story is to illustrate the communication barriers that we encounter in any given situation. Apart from speaking a completely different language, they express themselves in a radically different way.
Happy Valentine's Day!

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