Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thank You

I decided to learn one new Cantonese word each day and practice using it "out in the field." My word yesterday was "thank you."  The word is pronounced "mmgoy" with a bit of an upswing at the end. I asked Elsie (the building's housekeeper) about my pronunciation and she laughed a little and said it was like listening to a baby learn to talk. Undaunted, I headed out to Queen's Road.

I had given myself a few assignments for the morning: buy stamps, something with which to dry clothes, and find a place to read for a bit.  While walking around looking for Pacifica Coffee House (this is like The Memory Game - I know I've seen it somewhere, I just have to remember what row/column it's in), I happened upon one of those street vendor places. This street (Li Chit) has stalls and small store fronts that sell everything from dried squid to curlers to roses.  Found a store with clothespins/clothesline and tried out my first "mmgoy" and the lady smiled and helped me say it a little better.  Walked down the lane and found hangers. Again, I gave my "mmgoy" and the lady said, "Thank you! God bless you!" (cute!).  Then I found Pacifica and treated myself to a giant hot chocolate with whip cream and chocolate syrup and a regular "Thanks." As I sat in the coffee shop I checked out the scenery outside and realized I was very close to my goal of finding the Post Office.  I crossed over to the Hopewell Center (office building with McDonalds, Taste (grocery), bookstore, flower shop, etc.), went up to the 3rd floor to an elevated walkway and I found the Post Office. I purchased a book of stamps and again gave my "mmgoy" and the lady smiled and asked if I was visiting or living in Hong Kong. She was so helpful! After I pasted the stamps on my letters, I turned to find the mailbox and she "pssssst" and pointed to the corner.  "Mmgoy" again!  Back over to Hopewell, I bought nail polish remover (mmgoy!) and a newspaper (mmgoy).  Down to the 7-11 (water, diet coke) mmgoy, and home.  It was 10:30a but I felt like I'd been out all morning.

I'ts interesting, being the new kid in town. Not only am I learning my way around, but just learning how to "be" here. Its actually kind of exhausting planning not just to go buy a book of stamps, but figure out where the Post Office is located, make sure I have money, figure out the process - which line to use, how many stamps - what kind of stamps, where to actually post the letters, etc. 

I've also noticed that when I say "mmgoy" - the pronunciation has a slight upturn at the end but I feel like I'm asking a question so I want to give it a downturn so it sounds final - "Thank you!" not, "Thank you?"

Mmgoy for reading my post today.

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