Monday, April 5, 2010

Everything I Know I Learned From Ni Hao Kai-Lan

Posted By He Said

On our return trip from Tiananmen Square I was once again generously offered a seat on the subway because we have the children with us. This is not because we are famous (but we ALL know that we are over here) but is a behavior I have noticed done widely. People of all ages will offer their seats to those with children, or motion for the children to take the their seat. This, I can tell you after a day running from the Chinese papparazi chasing Brangelina, is welcomed with endless shea shea's (thank you's). By the end of a long day we are usually carrying the children so this is appreciated ALMOST as much as the cheeseburger I ate today that had REAL BEEF (at least it tasted like it did) with NO Asian twist and a HUGE slice of heavenly blue cheese. It could have been dog and cat for all I cared; it tasted like beef. So hey, if you are in Beijing, just look for the Union Bar and Grill over the Apple computer store in the Sanlitun Village. It's like coming home, but with more blue cheese.


No offense to Chinese food, but that burger was uh-fricking-mazing. I could blog about JUST that burger, oh and the Australian sitting next to us who talked through the entire meal. I don't think I heard one other person at the table utter more than a few words. He was the voice projector of the group Susanne said. After that I felt like he was a long lost brother, only better looking, with a sexy Australian accent who understood and LIKED sports. Ok, we both talk loud, that is about all we had in common.

So back to the subway. On the way home it was crowded. I bet you are saying to yourself “crowded in China on the subway, what an unusual experience,” and to that I say damn, you have NOT been paying attention. This is China, EVERYTHING is crowded. In the banks, they don't have lines. They have chairs and Take A Number machines like Baskin Robins on the Fourth Of July and they use them every day, all day long, and even on Sunday.

But yet again, I digress.

So there we are on the subway, and I have been generously given a seat at which point both children want to sit on my lap. Yes, I am a big guy, but I only have two legs (and they are big boned, not fat) and there is not much room for two children. But I managed to seat both children on my lap and in such a way that Emily actually fell asleep.


Braedyn was tired and yawning until Susanne pointed out the boy just a few seats down who was shyly eyeing Braedyn. Susanne encouraged Braedyn to say hello. This is where almost every Chinese word we know came into play.

Susanne: “Braedyn, say hello.”

Braedyn: “Ni Hao”

The Boy very carefully and methodically says: “Hello” and waves. Braedyn waves back.

You may have noticed that my child is trying to practice his Chinese and the little Chinese boy is trying to practice his English.

Our family chitter chatters in English for a bit and their family chitter chatters in Chinese a bit, and then the boy steps forward leaning through the crowd to hand Braedyn an apple. A gift. Such a sweet gesture that we are taken aback and Susanne searches through our bag for a reciprocal gift.

Braedyn: “Shea Shea”

The Boy: “You are welcome”.

More chitter chatter and finally I ask Braedyn , “how do you say apple in Chinese?”, and he stumbles for a bit, slightly embarrassed for all the attention he is getting. After all he sees there is a large group around us watching, listening, and the little anime blonde haired blue eyed girl is sleeping. All eyes are on him.

Finally he says “pingua?” and the Chinese family laughs and smiles and repeats “pingua” and our boy lights up because he has used yet ANOTHER word that we learned from Ni Hao Kai-Lan.


There is only one unused word left in our Chinese vocabulary.  One word I have not needed to use here and damn it Jacob, you better not make me a “yeah yeah” (grandfather) before I am 50, that’s all I can say.

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