At a Chinese restaurant – Week 41

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Watching Chinese movies in which people slurp down steaming hot noodles with evident pleasure has made me hanker for Asian food more often than usual. More than once the only recourse has been to eat Ramen noodles, which I had given up many years ago. I won’t lie–I have found them scrumptious!

Last week, after watching A Touch of Sin, I needed noodles again, so I took my wife and daughter to a local Chinese restaurant here in Brasilia. The owner is Sichuanese and was once the cook at the Chinese Embassy. As we were finishing our meal, he sat at another table to have dinner with his family, including a small boy, apparently his grandson.

My daughter, Camila Daya, is not a bit shy, and before long she had left our table and sat down at theirs (see picture above). She was welcomed, and my wife and I observed the scene with slight embarrassment, but mostly great mirth. (I did not converse with them in Mandarin out of respect for the rules of my experiment, of course—and not, ahem, because of my total lack of ability.)

At one point, my daughter handed something to the boy, and his mother said, “shie shie,” or thank you. To everyone’s surprise and delight, Camila Daya responded without the slightest pause or hesitation, “Bu ke chi,” or you’re welcome. Any vestige of embarrassment faded and I was one proud baba!

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That small experience may have helped motivate her, along with the arrival of some Disney DVDs, to put in a few hours of Mandarin listening after an almost three-month hiatus. We watched The Lion King in Mandarin twice, and Pinocchio once.

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 Her memory is remarkable. This week I also started listening to the song Nan Zi Han or Make a Man out of You from the movie Mulan again. (One of these days I will really learn it!) She has probably listened to it fewer than half the times that I have, but she remembered the first few lines much faster than I did.

Here is our updated Hours of Viewing graph.


In other news, I also watched my first non-Disney movie dubbed in Mandarin, Casablanca. I watched it without any subtitles. My comprehension was even lower than I had expected. I thought having seen the movie in English before would help me understand many words and phrases, but in fact I did not understand significantly more than I do when watching Chinese films. Nonetheless, it is such a great movie and very dialogue-intensive, so I will watch it again.