Surprise! Wo Hwei Lai La!

Seismic changes in my personal life and a promotion at work contributed to my suspending the Mandarin experiment for several months. The last time I watched Chinese regularly was in early October of last year, meaning that, for all intents and purposes, I took a ten-month hiatus. I viewed fewer than two hours in December and five hours in January, then not a single minute of Chinese until the end of July.

My hectic schedule has been exacerbated by the eleven international trips I’ve already taken this year. However, as I began my July trip to New York, I watched an inflight movie—The Martian with Matt Damon—in order to relax a bit. At one point, some Chinese officials spoke in Mandarin, and I understood several words—enough to enhance my comprehension of the scene. “I have got to start my viewing again,” I thought for the umpteenth time, but with much more conviction than before.

On my next trip, at the very end of July, I decided to watch a Chinese movie (Mermaid) and began another one (Love in Late Autumn) onboard my flights to California. (It’s a very interesting development that on a United flight from Brazil to the US there are now many international movies, including Chinese ones.)

Though for the next ten days I watched nothing, on August 9 I began again for good, with bread-and-butter daily viewing.

I’ve decided to watch as much Qiao Hu as I can take. The downside is that the show’s main demographic seems to be Taiwanese toddlers, so it somewhat lacks inherent thematic appeal for me (please note the sardonic understatement). I mean, I’m already pretty good at washing my hands and using the toilet. The upside is that, like a Taiwanese 10-month-old, I’m sometimes able to understand about half of what is said, without subtitles of course. It’s authentic material—just as I like, and as my experiment demands—that is designed for low-level speakers of Mandarin (i.e., toddlers).

The little tiger Qiao Hu, accompanied by one of his parents or his grandparents, likes to announce when he returns home for his infantile adventures, “Wo men hwei lai la,” which I’m fairly certain means, “We’re back.”

So, adjusting for the first person singular, I would similarly like to announce to my undoubtedly surprised readers:

Wo hwei lai la!


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