Mom communicating in China

Submitted by tveatch on Sun, 09/23/2018 - 22:26

Once upon a time Mom and Andrea and I went to China, and I wrote this after.

How to communicate in China

We climbed up what we thought was the mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, the revolutionary who in 1912 or so toppled the 5000-year-old imperial system of government in China and founded modern China (before getting booted by the next revolutionary), but instead it was the mausoleum of Wang Fu (or something) who might have been one of those emperors from a few hundred years earlier.

My Mom, who teaches English in China but doesn't hardly know any Chinese beyond bargaining skills, is nevertheless very skilled at animatronic communication. She was wondering if this was really Sun Yat-sen's mausoleum, even though it was a forty-foot-wide path heading straight up the hill with no branches -- it seemed pretty obvious to me where we needed to be going. But there were some handsome looking Chinese gentlemen there reading a sign, so I said Mom, you're single, I'm not going to cramp your style, if you want to go schmooze with some handsome men, go right ahead, but I'm just going to go on up this path. But I watched as she butted in to their conversation with map and English, of course they spoke only Chinese, so she gesticulated: Big head like SO (referring to the great leader Sun Yat-sen), death-bed like SO (drawing finger across throat, crossing eyes, executing the Q sign (mouth open, tongue stuck out downward diagonally), dropping head to the side, hands together and beside face, referring to death and sleep), where? like SO (pointing around in a circle, shrugging shoulders). The Chinese gentlemen looked quite confused. I couldn't stand to watch it any longer, and hiked onward. Mom met me at the top, saying that they had explained to her that we were indeed in the wrong place. Somehow she did it. I have got to hand it to Mom, she does the most amazing things with the fewest resources of anyone I ever met.