There are times when the chinese words come to you as friends. “Neng gan! Yes, you can!”, they whisper in your ear. On every taxi ride, on shop fronts, banners and building names, they flatter you, show you how much you already know: “Way to go, wo de pengyou!” Old vocabulary learned many years ago enters your mind with ease. Just another month and you’ll be able to fluently converse with everybody.
Ha! Don’t you ever trust them, they are just mocking you and will come back at you with a vengeance! “Hey, stupid laowai! What do you make of us today…?”, they greet you one morning. You stare at them in utter disbelief. You don’t even understand how they are written. Their shape and sound leave your memory as soon as your heart starts its next beat. “Oh,” they sigh in triumphant disappointment, “but you have to try harder. Na jiu duo nuli ba!”