Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Call it progress

I work on Chinese every day for at least an hour and a half. My tutor, a young man named Chen, is a recent graduate of this university whose job with a video game company does not begin until July 1. We work on various things-- pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, the writing system. The language continues to be challenging.

Today, Joe needed a card for his camera, so we visited a department store where, according to Chen, the electronics is of good quality. In the popular markets, electronic merchandise is often defective. We worked on the vocabulary I'd need for the transaction. He wrote everything out in pinyin, the Romanized system, and also in characters. I asked Chen to browse unobtrusively when we got to the store, and store personnel understood what I wanted. There are no breakthroughs with this language, but with effort, one learns.

In China, there are fewer open shelves in department stores than the US. After we'd selected the card from behind a glass case, an important looking supervisor with at least a dozen keys had to be summoned. I had to pay at a different counter, and the clerk validated my receipt with a big red stamp like the one above.

Photo: After our excursion, Chen and Joe have lunch at a Japanese restaurant in the department store food court.

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