We’ve yet to work out how best to say ‘2014’ in Chinese, because ‘14’ (yao si) is a homonym for yao si, 要死 – “want to die,” and as you very likely know, four is more or less a taboo number in these parts. (The lift in our building not only skips ‘13’ but also ‘14’, leaving residents stranded on the improbable 12Ath and 12Bth floors. That’s just silly.)
There are vacation destinations where you will have something planned every day: Day 1 is the Eiffel Tower, Day 2 is the Louvre, Day 3 is the Notre Dame Cathedral. There are vacation destinations where every day is an adventure, a whirlwind of photographs and experiences that, in retrospect, almost seem too distant to be reality. And then, there’s the island of Boracay in the Philippines.
My first Chinese teacher was every Beijing taxi driver who ever had the privilege of toting my foreignness around town. The dialogue between laowai and shifu follows a predictable pattern. First, laowai demonstrates advanced Chinese proficiency by saying “ni hao.” Shifu then complements laowai as speaking very standard Chinese, and subsequently peppers laowai with questions about his homeland. Eventually this conversation turns to food and he is forced to explain which is better, Chinese or Western food. For me, this is when my hands get thrown up in the air and I try, in vain, to explain you cannot compare one cuisine with the other. Food is good, awesome, and also delicious. It is among my favorite things to eat. I sometimes eat it with every meal.
Laifu was eaten recently. We presume that this was not her fault, but one never really knows with these sorts of things. Whatever the case, there was little or nothing Laifu could have done to change either the prejudices or the appetites of her owner, who being both local and a carnivore is quite probably beyond fault, or not worth the effort of faulting. Up to now we had held him in reasonably high regard, or at least reasonably low disregard. We’re not sure how we feel about him now, but what’s done is done.