I was out for lunch with a friend today when we bumped into a man who looked like he’s struggling to carry a suitcase and a few bags while on a crutch.
So my friend offered to help him.
We carried the suitcase downstairs for him (man it was really heavy!) and he followed us.
Then he said thanks and hesitated ‘where are you guys from?’.
We – Asians that both have been living in places that we don’t always remember what we are, looked at each other and stunned for a few seconds.
The man went: Chinese, Korean, Japanese?
Given such a clue, my friend said ‘Chinese’ (she was originally from Hong Kong).
I said: yea. (Didn’t find it necessary to clarify my nationality)
He smiled: How do I say Thank you in Chinese?
My friend looked stunned again. I bet she was searching through her memories to find the phrase.
I thought I know and rwent: ehh ehh ehh ehh xie xie ni.
My friend jumped in: ya ya xie xie ni.
I can tell you for one second, I felt damn proud. Being such a smooth operator that can spit out a Chinese phrase even the real steel Chinese. Thanks to those years living in Singapore.
The man smiled: xie xie.
The instant pride vanished. We went back to our way to lunch.