Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bought some flash cards today. I have slowly, slowly been increasing my repertoire of hanzi (kanji). I try to write a few every day in my little notebook. The kind with the squares that go across the page. I was using a regular pen, but Jean told me that I need to start with a pencil. I feel like a first grader. But if you're serious about learning Chinese, you really do need to learn characters. There are so many good Mandarin language books available now. Especially in Beijing. But the books are basically useless if you can't read. So, the process continues. And there is much to learn from it. Some of it makes sense, and some of it doesn't.

For example, it turns out that the character for "jia," which means "home," consists of a roof, under which is the character for "pig." I confronted my Chinese friends with this problem,

"OK, you guys. Who let the pig in the house? You should never let the pig in the house! That's why you had a problem with SARS, because you let the pig in the house."

My friends in Beijing were quick to pass the buck,

"No, no, no. That's Guangzhou. We don't do that."

So I confronted my friend from Guangzhou,"

"OK, I found out you're the culprit. You're the one who let the pig in the house."

She was indignant,

"SARS doesn't come from pigs. SARS comes from wild animals. There is nothing wrong with pigs. Pigs are good."

Well, she does have a point. Every one in China eats pork. Well, everyone except Abdullah. Abdullah and I go to a Muslim restaurant over by the South Gate of Beida that has the most incredible....never mind. Anyway, as Piano once told me, pork is the "default" meat of China. If the menu says, "niu rou," it's beef. If the menu says, "yang rou," it's mutton. But if the menu just says, "rou," you can assume it's pork.

But that still doesn't explain who let the pig in the house.

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