I wished a total stranger Happy New Year in Mandarin, even though he had just crashed into the front passenger door of my car right after he rode his bicycle on the pavement against the flow of traffic that was on the road outside the entrance to my apartment blocks.
In response, he said, “å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·æ–°å¹´å¿«ä¹å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·å¯¾ä¸èµ·“ in a Northern Chinese accent.
He looked very shaken but was otherwise unhurt, thank goodness.
At the petrol station where I let the pump attendant fill the tank to 48 point something litres and exactly $100, with him looking very proud at his New Year’s achievement, the cashier very sleepily said, “Pum One? Altogether $95 after discount”, after which, she attempted to foist some Delifrance products on me, but for a few long seconds, forgot how to perform her sales pitch in English, leaving her right hand outstretched and pointing silently at the sundry pastries. Only when her hand came down did she realise she could also try in Mandarin, but I cut her off with a “No thank you” before she finished saying “è¦ä¸è¦ä¹°åƒçš„ä¸œè¥¿ï¼Ÿâ€ in a Malaysian accent.
In the weeks leading to the New Year, Naomi and I had been hearing about how 2008 would bear not so good news regarding the economy. Prices would continue to rise, and things would be tight. Then we saw that the even the pound cakes at the neighbourhood cake shop had been lightened. They’re now maybe 3/4 pound or so: