I rather enjoy being a 过客 guoke: passing traveler, a transient guest. Perhaps its due to my nomadic youth, being herd from one city to another, back and forth. Being a 地头蛇 ditoushe, a snake in its old haunts or a host is nice but it comes usually with bit of responsibilities. Come to think about it, every city I moved to, required the learning of new language or dialect. It’s me who has no talent in language, so I’m used to the puzzle look on the person whom I was conversing with. It’s kind of gratifying to see the person 恍然大悟 huangran dawu, suddenly see the light – after I muttered some inaudible or un-understandable words or phrases; like I would congratulate the new president on his new erection, what I really meant to say was on his election.
When I first got to New York, at a dinner a friend told this joke:
A Chinese man went to see an eye doctor (thanks the joke teller who spared me with ophthalmologist bec I won’t understand it ..).
Doctor: “What’s your problem?”
The Chinaman said, “Oh Dr, I have Cadillac.”
The Dr: “Oh big deal, I have rincoln continental.”
So the whole room was laughing and then looking at me .. .. bec there was none from me .. ..because I didn’t know what’s so funny about cars, or might be I didn’t even know what Cadillac and Lincoln Continental were.
So they all got the second laugh.
Because of my inadequacy of the languages/dialects, those 豁然大悟 huoran dawu (suddenly see something in a clear light) moments were usually not on me.