Friday, July 3, 2009

Compliments I Never Get in America

In a cab today, all in Chinese:

"Wow! I was just talking to my friend, you are so beautiful! Your skin is SO WHITE!"

(Your skin is SOOOooOOoOOoOoOo WHITE was then repeated several more times, in several different ways, with unwavering enthusiasm)

"Here! Look at this picture of my daughter. She doesn't have your beauty."

"Your daughter is very pretty!"

"No, no no - she doesn't have your beauty. Your skin is so white! And you aren't too tall! Because Taiwan people are shorter, but you aren't too tall! Do you want me to wait for you after I drop you off?"

"No, no need. Thank you."

"But you must be careful ... Taiwan people are 'hen huai.'"

Hen huai is either "very naughty" or "very evil" I can't remember which, maybe both?

"No, no! Taiwan people are very 're xin!'"

re xin = warm-hearted

"Ah yes, Taiwan people are very re xin, but some of them are hen huai. And you must be careful because you are so beautiful."

When I eventually move home and - inevitably - get teased summer after summer about my ghost-like complexion. I will remember conversations like this with fondness.

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