Butter: My Little Yellow Friend

I don’t speak Mandarin. I can (incorrectly) say a few things, but I don’t speak it. I also can’t read it. I can recognize a few words (pictures to me) in Chinese, but I don’t know what words they mean, just what they mean. Oh, the box with two x’s [网] means there is probably internet here.

Once in a while, I do pick up something new. Today, it was the word for butter, because I was trying to search for butter to buy online. XX gave me the pinyin (romanized alphabet for the Chinese characters), “huang you.” Two words I know, “huang” means yellow, and “you” means friend.

Butter, you are my yellow friend. Yes you are. Sad to say, butter, you are probably my best friend. You will be there with me right to the end (and possibly be the cause of that end).

I was disappointed when XX explained it to me though. It is “huang you,” but the “you” here means oil (油 Yóu), not friend (友 You).

But I don’t care! Don’t worry butter, I will always think of butter as my little yellow friend, and no linguistic rules can tear us apart!



Tesco Made My Day A Little Worse

I had a moment of annoyance in Tesco yesterday. Not overly proud of it. We had been waiting in line to pay for a few minutes already. There were 2 people left in front, and 1 woman left after us. 

The cashier told the woman in front of us to put up the lane blocker, she would be the last customer. The woman was confused as to why the cashier wouldn’t tell the current end of the line she was last, however she complied. The barrier hit my cart as it went up. 

The cashier had yet to even look at us, or the Thai woman behind us. She ignored my inside voice declaration, “Seriously…” I just wanted the cashier to look, shrug her shoulders, and offer an apology for the abrupt cutoff to the line. The two women in front of me were still staring at the cashier confused as to why she would cut us off midline. Acknowledgement from the cashier remained undelivered. 

I decided to go to another line, for a brief moment I was just going to wait in the line, pay, and go. This was, of course, an insignificant interaction in my day. Then I remembered there was a supermarket on the drive home. We could stop and get what we wanted there, save a flavour of pop I wanted. I let go of the cart where it was, and we exited stage left. No dramatics, no fury, just drop the cart, walk away. 

Patience was put on the back burner a little bit tonight. Should I have kept my cool? Probably. Did I keep me cool, not entirely. Maybe I needed a Snickers.

I’m Dreaming of Big City Supermarkets

Oh China, such interesting happenings in my days here. As I have said before, I am a super minority in my town of 1,000,000 people. In the whole town, there are 2 foreigners (before summer there were 4 of us). There is a guy from Australia, and myself. This of course causes curiosity when I am out of the house. People stare, people talk, people molest/pet/rub my belly (cause some people are dinks), people point, and people loudly exclaim, “Foreigner,” when they see me. To be fair, I am the first foreigner many people here have ever seen in person, and I am on a short list for other people who don’t spend time in the big cities.  I understand the curiosity. The belly thing only ever happened twice, and I do have a short fuse for future happenings. I am quite sure the next guy (both were 50ish men) will get his hand slapped like a 5 year old child reaching for a hot stove, I feel this is a fair reaction to being molested by strangers.
I digress.

All of these things, I don’t really mind (except my belly being handled by strangers), I enjoy the photos people want to take with me. I enjoy how some shops will offer me a foreigner discount, instead of the price going the other way as it normally does when I travel (See the story of buying my electric bike for an example of this. The same thing happened the other day with my heater). My life is good here, and I have no real complaints. I am comfortable, and I never go hungry.
My dream though, is to grocery shop without having my cart/choices scrutinized. Given the chance, I want to do a big trip, once a month to get the bulk of my food for the month, then pick up odds and ends at the farmer’s market after. I want to go to the supermarket, and walk out with 7, or 8 bags of groceries, and not be a spectacle. Not going to happen here. It is strange for people to have more than a bag or two of groceries, so, I keep it pretty scaled back for each trip. I guess it wasn’t even worth mentioning the bags, the number of bags isn’t really the point, it is the examination of my cart/basket.
Here is how I know my choices in the supermarket are being, judged/stared at/scrutinized(?) not really sure the right word. When I get a handful of things in my cart, people start to inspect them. I can see the disapproving looks of the grandmothers at my lack of vegetables in the cart (I do buy them at the farmer’s market, not a tonne, but enough to not die).
Shawn, you don’t know for sure people care what you are buying.
Yes I do. 
Beyond the looks into my cart, people will actually dig into my cart, move items to see what is below. They will lift things, and show them to their friends, and get a laugh, or a look, or whatever it may be. Old people, young people, never children though. I mentioned this to a Chinese friend, and they were surprised people would do this at all, let alone multiple times. The reaching into my cart doesn’t happen every time of course. It happens about 2-3 times a month.
Now, I realize it is curiosity. I am not upset at it, but when I am grocery shopping, sometimes I wish I were just a face in the crowd, nobody noticing, could buy my meat, junk food, and whatever else from the supermarket, and pay for it without attention. I like my small town, it has most everything I could want (coffee shop, supermarket with a couple imported items, and a hamburger grinder, 2 movie theatres, and a KFC to go to once or twice a month), but on occasion I think how nice a city would be where my side show appeal wouldn’t exist.
But, I do love the photo ops, when people shyly come up to ask if they can take a picture with me. I also do love the random hugs from kids on the street, although sometimes my heart stops when they see me, and run across the street without looking. I do get many smiles (Which I would characterize as genuine). So, I vented about grocery shopping, and now I am good.