Monday, January 15, 2007

No Hablo Ingles

I'm quickly learning that Caucasian features are a magnet to touts of all types in Mainland China. I'm constantly hearing "Hello DVD/Mah-Sah-Gee/English guide/Rolex/Taxi/Tour, etc. At first my midwestern politeness would take hold and I'd acknowledge the person and say "No Thank You." However many people here are pretty persistant, and that wouldn't shake them. Then I started just ignoring these touts, but that didn't work wither. Lately, I've been pretending I only speak Spanish, which has worked most of the time.

Now, everytime I hear the "Hello Lookie Lookie," I do my part to re-erect the language barrier and say "Lo Siento no hablo ingles." Which always confuses the tout. I can see it in their eyes, they're thinking what kind of lao wei doesn't speak English. Then when they persist, I respond "Lo Siento no te entiendo." with a look of utter incomprehension in my face. Nomally, they then get the point and leave me alone. Some even mutter something under their breath. . . I get the point they're thinking "how useless, a lao wei who can't speak English." Mission accomplished! I'm left in peace. Who knew those many years of spanish education would come in useful?

However, today that strategy met its match. In the walk up to the Forbidden City(yes I'm in Beijing, I'll write more about it when I get back to HK) there were tons of touts. . . The same routine and then I go "No hablo ingles." Then she responds "Ah espanol! Como Estas?" Now she's trying to engage. She quickly realizes the ruse and says "You American! Why you lie!?!" and won't leave me alone. I shake her, but the damage was done and everybody realizes I'm about as American as they come and I'm being pitched everything again. Dammit! I'm going to have to refine my technique for next time.


shmoo said...

Learn Navajo?

Le Voyageur said...

Time to start brushing up on your Klingon.