I remember his question well.
One morning I walked to our neighborhood post office in Taipei to take the language exam I liked to call “mailing a package.” I got in the line leading to a clerk with whom I was familiar, practiced and prepped for answering what he would ask me—things like “Where is your package going?” or “What’s inside the box?”
Instead, he glanced at me and said nonchalantly, “Have you eaten?”
What? Did I look gaunt and hungry? Was he prying into my daily schedule? Was he inviting me to share a snack? Was the post office a food-free zone and he’d seen some crumbs on my shirt?
While I remember the question, I don’t remember what I said in return. As he’d caught me off guard, my guess is that my reply was incoherent at best (F for the exam). It wasn’t until later that I found out that “Have you eaten?” is simply a local way to say Hello, particularly among the older generations. (“I’ve eaten” or “Not yet” suffice for responses, with no need for elaboration or fact checking.)
I wish I could say that was the only time I was confused by a greeting in Taiwan. Yeah, I wish.
For the rest of this post, go to A Life Overseas. . . .
[photo: “HI sparklers,” by Julie Lane, used under a Creative Commons license]
I saw one of the new iPhone 5C commercials a couple days ago. It’s a great collage of people around the world saying hello on their phones. I guess Apple wants their cheaper, more colorful smart phone to catch on all over the globe. (Who am I kidding? Of course Apple wants all their phones to catch on all over the globe.)
There are two versions of the ad, “Greetings” and “Greetings Too,” but the one-minute extended version combines both. Are the languages you speak buried inside?
We certainly live in a rainbow-colored world.
After I watched this, I got nostalgic for the song “True Colors,” so I clicked around YouTube and found Cindy Lauper’s and Phil Collin’s versions. Then I came to last year’s cover by The British Paraorchestra (“the world’s first ensemble of professional disabled musicians”), The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children, and ParalympicsGB athletes. Very moving.
You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh, I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
But I see your true colors
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
Are beautiful like a rainbow