16 July, 2012

Rollin'... Rollin'...

Sometimes, here in China, I have moments where I can't help but laugh. Tonight, I had one of those moments next to a taxi driver who couldn't stop staring at my crutches.

With my little bit of Chinese, I can usually have a four or five sentence conversation with whomever is driving. Often, now, it revolves around why I'm using these metal poles under my arms that are taller than most Chinese people.

I was stuck in traffic (shocker!) on my way home tonight, after exhausting my five sentences. At that point, I usually just enjoy the incomprehensible Chinese coming through the radio. Quite literally, it sounds like this looks:

        但是从更广泛的意义上来说,我们不能奉献,不能圣化,不能神化这片土地。那些曾在这里战斗过的人,活着的或死去的,已经圣化了这片土地,远非我们的微薄之力所能扬抑。世人极少会注意或长久记得我们今天在这里所说的话,但是勇士们在这里做过的事将永远不会被忘记。倒是我们,活着的人,应该把自己奉献给曾在里战斗的勇士们如此崇高推进的未竟事业。倒是我们应该在这里把自己奉献给留在我们面前的伟大任务:从这些光荣的死者身上我们汲取更多的献身精神来完成他们精诚所至的事业; 我们在这里下定决心不让死者白白死去;这个国家,在上帝的保佑下,将获得自由的新生。这个民有、民治、民享的政府将与世长存。
Complete nonsense. I cannot understand but a few characters (reading or listening).

However, tonight was different. If I was going to reenact what I heard, it would go something like this:
什么什么什么什么什么什么什么 "Proud Mary"...
(if only I could auto-play it for the moment you read "Proud Mary"...)

I laughed and laughed, staring out the window at the green of Chengdu at dusk.

(For the Sinophiles out there, the hanzi at the top is a translated version of the Gettysburg Address. The repeated characters, 什么, shenme in pinyin, are the word for "what". However, one of the Chinese habits I've picked up from my students is to use shenme similar to how we would use "blah" or "yadayada", as filler for words that you don't know or are unimportant. Without fail, my students laugh when I use it in class.)

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