I’m back in Beijing after a short stay in Japan.
Now it’s warmer than Japan during the daytime. But in Beijing, all central heating for buildings/apartments stopped in the middle of March, so I feel cold when I’m in my apartment…
On Saturday, my husband had to go out, so I was home alone.
When I was home, the woman who cleans the community space and garden cleaning woman (阿姨 ayi) knocked on our door.
She visits my husband sometimes to ask for stuff, for instance, fixing her cellphone or something. (Sometimes he can help her, sometimes he can’t.)
She works outside every day whether it’s hot or cold. Cheerful ayi.
Ayi : ‘Hey, can you write Chinese?’
Me : ‘Well, It’s similar to Japanese, but (grammar is different)…
but I can write down Chinese characters.’
‘Good! Could you copy this?’
She gave me a postal package invoice that was already filled out and two blank ones.
‘Oh, ok, sure.’
If it’s only writing Chinese characters, I’m sure I can do better than my Taiwanese-American husband, because Japanese also use them in everyday life. (But my speaking skill is way lower than my husband. He’s been here for seven years.)
So, I see, this ayi doesn’t know how to write.
Even though she is working in a big city like Beijing, and is not old, maybe in her 40s, she doesn’t know how to write/read Chinese so well.
It was actually a bit of a shock to me.
Was she from a farming village?
Speaking of farming villages, the kind woman upstairs is from a village, but she can write and read. When we chat toegether, sometimes we write Chinese characters on paper for better understanding when I can’t speak well in Chinese.
And I know a girl in her twenties who speaks very good English. Even though she is from a farmer’s village where education levels are still behind of the city, she studied hard and graduated from a university and found a job here. But she said it’s still kind of rare.
When I finished writing the postal invoices, Ayi gave me a piece of white cloth.
She was pointing at the invoice and the piece of cloth.
‘What? …Oh, do you mean you want me to write on this piece of cloth too?’
Really? Wow, it’s very interesting…
Anyway I started writing as she asked.
‘Write with bigger letters!’
‘I got it! …But, why on a cloth? Can’t you use paper?’
‘The paper one is for the post office, but I need the cloth to put on my two baggages.’
‘Oh really. I see~~~.’
’So write two please.’
‘Here you are. Is this address your home town?’
‘Yes, it’s Hebei province. It takes about three hours or more by train.’
It was not easy to write on cloth with a regular pointed pen.
But it was a very interesting experience.
Now I feel I should’ve written bigger. I hope her packages arrive
to her home safely.