Life in Beijing. Life to Beijing.
When you live in a foreign country, the language barrier can be just that – a barrier. Often the simple things in life become much more complicated and involve a lot more haphazard hand gestures to make up for a frustrating lack of vocabulary.
My most recent Chinese challenge focuses on food. (Did you expect anything less when it comes to me?) My local 饭店 (fan dian, restaurant) gives an immense amount of 米饭 (mi fan, rice) with their 盖饭 (gai fan, a dish of meat and/or veggies served over rice). I’ve found that I probably don’t need all that rice – all the extra carbs in every meal. So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get them to give me less food! (pigs are flying!!)
After asking a Chinese friend, I tried saying: 我要半米饭 (wo yao ban mi fan). Literally: I want half rice. This seems to get a nod from the waitress and the exact same amount of rice. Fail.
I tried this again recently and wound up getting a dish with the rice on one half of the plate and the meat/veggies on the other half (instead of on top). Fail # 2.
Failure teaches persistence. It also teaches me to be careful which Chinese friends I consult for advice. After talking to another Chinese friend, I found out that I, in fact, should be saying: 我要一半的米饭 (wo yao yi ban de mi fan). This should translate to: I want half rice.
I tried my new Chinese out tonight. The waitress nodded in understanding and a few happy minutes later delivered this to my table:
I need to find new friends.