Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Met a school girl this morning who must have seen me before, because she said, "It's been a long time." She's a shy kid--I walked right by her and she didn't say anything. Then I heard her mother say, "Talk to him," so she came up along side me and said that she hadn't seen me for a long time. I didn't really remember her, but that doesn't mean anything, because I meet lots of people who seem to know me quite well, but I can't remember ever meeting them.

I think the kid's mother wanted her to practice her English with me or something, but that wasn't going to happen, because the she didn't speak English, except to say, "My name is..."

As we entered the park, her mother was walking ahead of us. Every once in awhile, she would yell back a question.

"Ask him how long he has been here."

"Ask him how old he is."

After awhile her mother told her to ask me if I liked music. I could see what was coming, so I said, "Not while I'm hiking. I prefer to listen to the birds." I had a feeling this was going to get rather annoying, but fortunately, her mom dropped behind as we started to ascend the slope. The little girl was a chatter box, but she was speaking clear, lucid Mandarin, not some countryside dialect, so it wasn't too hard to keep up with her. After awhile, we came to a pavilion, and the little girl suggested we stop for a rest. I gathered that this is where she usually stopped to wait for her mother. I didn't complain, because the kid was energetic and walking fast, and I didn't mind a chance to catch my breath. Besides, she was a pleasant kid. She asked me what my favorite TV program was, so I gave her the name of a popular local sitcom that I sometimes use for language practice. She said, "Oh, I like that one too," and started telling me all about it.

After a few minutes, Mom showed up with her boom box blaring. I asked which way they were going and informed them that I was heading the other direction, which was true, actually. I don't know...I guess you have to let each person choose their own way of doing things, but it is really frustrating to be hiking out in nature and suddenly hear a lot of amplified noise that drowns out everything else. I think the problem is that Chinese people are so accustomed to the cacophony of urban life, that when they encounter the wonderful quiet of a cypress forest, they feel uncomfortable.

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