Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A smile and a nod, and we'll figure it out later

It's 2:00p and our ayi has arrived.

NZ has been searching for iPad apps that can help us communicate with her ( although at this point,I am convinced it would be quicker for us to just learn Mandarin). We thought we had found one, but by the sound of things, it's not going so well with google translate. It has worked quite well with our driver, so we had high hopes it would help Liu convey her questions to us.

Such is not the case.

I'm usually the only one home when she comes to clean. She and I play a weird version of charades that usually helps us communicate, and if I use google translate, she understands it enough--but we're struggling when it comes to her trying to tell me something. On Monday afternoon, she washed the bed linens that I had just washed the day before.... all because I couldn't explain to her that I had just washed them, and could we please wait two days til Wednesday?

So, clean sheets it was. I really shouldn't complain about having fresh sheets now, should I?

Yesterday, I typed out to her that Sal and I would be right back--we were going downstairs to get our mail. Before I could grab the door, she grabbed my arm and was leading me out onto the balcony to show me that it was raining and charaded that I needed an umbrella and Sal needed something as well. What does he need? His own umbrella? A hat? Huh? No hablo Chinese.

Finally she lead me to his room and showed me his drawer of jackets.

A jacket?

It's JUNE. A very humid 80 degrees. A jacket? Really?

She held the jacket as if I should put it on him. I had to grab my iPad ( I could have been down to get the mail and back already!) to type out that our mailbox was inside the lobby. We would not be going outside in the rain.

"Hao" (okay)

And after that 5 minute exchange, Sal and I were off to get our mail, jacket and umbrella-less, and were back in under 3 minutes.

One thing is for sure, she's looking out for us. So far, so good. I like her, and the fact that she will rattle off in Chinese like I totally understand her. I give her the whole " I-have-no-idea-what-you-just-said, so-just-go-ahead-and-do-it-until- I-learn-how-to-tell-you-otherwise" smile and away she goes to wash our sheets again.

We will get this whole lost in translation thing down. We'll find an app that works for her ( she slows down her pronunciation and YELLS into the iPad, which makes her word "rag" come up as "pig", etc.) She must think we're really crazy. Those dang Americans, why don't they learn the language?

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