Recovery mode

Unfortunately I’ve been laid low for the past week with some unspecified but terribly annoying illness so my planned post of more LCA+ shots has had to be postponed. However, today’s surprise recovery led to a wonderfully Sunday-ish Sunday, the way Sundays should be.

It all kicked off with a rare long lie, snoozing intermittently till somewhere just shy of 10 o’clock (that’s late for me…) before emerging from my cocoon to cradle the acoustic for a while. Hunger started to kick in but was soon enough assuaged as I met Bear for a spot of brunch at  K。布朗, a popular spot a stone’s throw from my flat which had somehow evaded my attention till now. The bear-filled interior gave it a bizarre, cutesy charm – a strangeness matched by the menu. I opted for the French Meal, details of which were in Chinese beyond my knowledge. French you say? That’ll be croissants and the like, obviously…

Nope. If memory serves it was fried chicken, fries, sweet mayonnaise, a solitary toast soldier, ham omelette and french toast doused in caramel sauce. Yup. Bear’s Norwegian meal was no less eclectic, featuring bacon, sausage, egg, cheese, fruit, salad and cake. Seriously. An odd start but oddly delicious 🙂 Over the course of the meal I was treated to an impromptu Chinese lesson, Bear seemingly reveling in the opportunity to teach me all manner of handy phrases including “I’m going crazy”. 謝謝老師 🙂

Brunch over, Bear headed of to Forro to start her shift while I went on a shopping spree. Aside from the weekly essentials I had a brainstorm to help with my recent forays into learning to read and write Chinese – an ambitious plan without an official teacher. The shop at the National Museum Of Fine Arts sells some gorgeous books and on my last visit I spied a Snow White story book with traditional Chinese characters – mostly Greek to me – backed up with ZhuYin, which I can actually read. ZhuYin is a Taiwanese phonetic alphabet for Mandarin, allowing one to at least pronounce words without necessarily knowing the meaning. Chinese characters offer no clues to pronunciation themselves so this has been an invaluable aid to me. Fingers crossed I can use the ZhuYin to allow me to decipher (via friends or dictionaries) characters I don’t yet recognise (i.e. 99.99% of them). As an added bonus I spotted a similar storybook for Belleville Rendezvous/The Triplets Of Belleville for 99NT. Score!

According to my Chinese teacher, Wendy, the Belleville book’s language is a tad tricky but I’m assuming that familiarity with the story will help. If not I’m in for a rough ride but hey, that’s half the fun.

(The small characters to the right of each large one are ZhuYin)

With the shopping mission complete it was time to hit Forro Cafe for round two of the epic tongue twister battle between Ponni and myself. I was tasked with reciting the following Chinese torture implement:


Which is pronounced roughly as follows (with the addition of tones to mess things up further)

“Shi shi si dzi si shi si zhi shi shi dzi, Si shi shi zhi shi shi dzi chi si shi si zhi shi dzi shi dzi.”

Ponni’s challenge was the classic:

“Swan swam over the sea,
Swim, swan, swim!
Swan swam back again,
Well swum swan!”

Somehow – and I still maintain the decision was wrong – a jury of our peers (Bear, Ivy and Michelle) awarded me victory over my valiant adversary. A travesty of justice to be sure but I accepted the honour. As a reward Ponni made me the sweetest gift – a rubber stamp bearing the phrase “Forro” and my Chinese name, “堡羅”, with the two parts blending into each other. It’s easier to display than explain…

How she made this I have no idea but it was rather touching so I gave her the gift I’d prepared in case of her victory anyway, an album of photos taken by my LCA+ at Forro the previous week. We brainstormed the next event over my introduction to the local delicacy of thousand-year-old egg, which I’m glad to report tastes a hell of a lot better than it sounds. Her next challenge is good old “Red lorry, yellow lorry” repeated five times while I have something of a Chinese equivalent.

The gist of this, as far as I could glean between the snickers of Bear – who was responsible for choosing it – Ponni and Myron is that it describes mythical beasts of varying colours. I’ve got a good feeling about this one if I can master the tones, bring it on.

Now it’s 9:30, I’m all ready for the week ahead, listening to some Chinese music I’m not allowed to mention and preparing to re-acquaint myself with the wonder of Belleville Rendezvous. Yay for Sunday, see you in a few days when the latest batch of prints are processed.


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