Yaoooo! Culture on a high level right here in El Terreno!
Yes, fabled Swedish hotel, Feliz, has had the excellent idea of providing live music on its terrace every Saturday night. Not only that, the performance starts at a normal hour: 7:30pm instead of 9, 10 or even 11 like others crazily think I'll stay awake for. Big applause.
Last night it was cheerful Irishman Adrian Flatley (possible brother or son of the Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley himself)
who entertained us with his incredible voice and guitar skills and great musical versatility. And, you know, being Irish!
I have always had a special affinity for the Irish. When I lived in Hong Kong, I joined the St. Patrick's Society as a life member, just so I could go to their quiz nights and what not and listen to Irish being spoken. I mean English with an Irish accent. And the island itself - can anywhere get more beautiful and Tolkienesque?
Another thing I did in Hong Kong was to get a banjo. The banjo is my favourite instrument because it's happy-making. It's quite simply impossible to sit still when I hear bluegrass or any other music where the banjo features prominently. As with everything I do, I had an linguistic ulterior motive: I wanted to make music videos in Cantonese.
Having myself learnt Mandarin largely through karaoke; learning songs by heart and going to what used to be public karaoke rooms to perform them, I thought my Cantonese students would leap on the chance to have songs written in real Cantonese, not pseudo Mandarin with Cantonese pronunciation which is the rule in Canto pop.
This strangely failed.
Since I came here, my banjos have been largely sitting there gathering dust, because, lame excuse, I couldn't find a teacher. In Hong Kong I had the multi talented brothers Petrashune who both worked as musicians at Disneyland to help me with the banjo - we did Cantonese lessons in exchange for banjo lessons.
But guess what! Mr. Flatley also plays the banjo! Right here in Mallorca! Is it possible that...? It's probably too much to expect that he will want to have Cantonese lessons in exchange for banjo, but then again, why not? According to his YouTube channel he likes cool things, and nothing can be cooler than Cantonese. But if all else fails, yes, I will pay.
As they say in the bluegrass world: Learn Cantonese the Natural Way, from a Norwegian!
Today's Cantonese: 彈班卓琴 tan ban jeuk kam - pluck banjo zither (play the banjo)
Although I had and still have little interest in the Spanish language per se because after Cantonese, any other language is bound to seem too normal, I enjoyed writing the book. Not only because I like drawing and it gave me a chance to poke fun at the covid restrictions that were just kicking in, but because I had a deadline every week - my editor Heather was using the book to teach a new group on Zoom! Unfortunately (for me) they were super intelligent and fast learners, and every week they kept clamouring for more, ever more course material.
It was a relief to be able to write The End after 131 pages of intense working in a language I don't speak and which isn't Cantonese, but then came the kick in the teeth: Heather wanted me to, not unreasonably I have to say, 1. Edit the book so we could be sure everything was correct (damn accents) 2. put numbers on the questions in the exercises and 3. Give, yes ADD, the correct answer to the questions in the exercises.
What? Revision? Nooooooo! So boring. In Cantonese of course, I was the teacher and would correct my students live, in the same room. That was fun!
This was turning into la plume de ma tante, but in Spanish. But with a higher incidence of plonkerism, that is true.
However, yesterday something great happened which is forcing me to crawl up the last bit of this seemingly insurmountable hindrance that the normally affable Heather threw in my path and which has been weighing on me like an old murder case: My friend is coming to visit me with her son, and her son is learning Spanish, and he is going to use my book as a prop!
Yabba doooo this is the deadline I needed. Now I leap to the task with a renewed, nay, new joy.
So that will be published soon on a website near you! Cheap as chips and twice as crunchy.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong and the Cantonese language are struggling a bit these days. So if you want to learn something really fun and happening - and easy! while making a huge political statement and sticking a finger in the eye of the dour and humourless Mandohooligans, do yourself a favour and
Today's Cantonese: 肥佬 Fei lou - fat geezer
In a world where everything is delivered, it's good to have the post office nearby, because not even I am at home 24 hours a day! Sometimes I'm at the post office buying stamps, for example. That's what I must have been doing when a parcel came via Amazon on the 16th of August. But I didn't know, because there was no note, no phone call, and when I tried to track the parcel, only "your parcel can't be found." That was a bit vexing, because it was a present I had bought on July 7th; a farewell present for Palan - Patricia and Alan - who were leaving forever on the 20th.
Ahhrghhh! Not another loss! One of the worst things about living in Hong Kong was that although it was easy to find friends, especially since as a Cantonese teacher I had unlimited access to like-minded, adventurous people from all over the world, they left as soon as I really became attached to them. Two years, five if I was lucky, then a big going away party and pfffft.
Here in Mallorca, largely stuck at home during lockdown this and curfew that, and working online without colleagues, it hasn't been so easy to make friends. So I was very happy to meet excellent couple Palan at the end of lockdown, through their dog, of course. We talked about dogs, then I invited them to a Matal Party to celebrate possibly the world's only devout Muslims starting their own wine label called 'Shitfaced' (in Bengali).
Then came another semi lockdown with all restaurants closed. That would have been dire if not for Palan. I discovered they are as crazy about card games, board games and quizzes as I am. Roping in a fourth victim, Aaron, we started a dinner and Cho Dai Di club, dinner & cho dai di club, meeting from one to several nights a week in each other's houses, scurrying home well in time to beat the 10pm curfew, of course. What do you think we are, criminals?
When restaurants tentatively opened up again with the somewhat puzzling closing time of 5pm, we started doing Happy Hour in nearby Bar Michel, arriving at 4 pm and buggering off at 4:45pm. That's when the put-upon owners of Bar Michel started getting nervous. Plain clothes police were everywhere trying to catch their fellow citizens in the act of surviving.
So for me, the worst year in living memory for many was actually great, because of Palan. They also helped me move, and both lent their services as cabinet makers and architects, for mates' rates. They were fun, interesting, kind, trustworthy and understanding. They made me feel I wasn't living in a world of acquaintances.
Therefore, when they told me they were leaving to settle in Ireland, I was kind of devastated, but also vexed. Who would be my game night mates now? And everything?
I decided to get them a special going away present, a neon lamp in the shape of playing cards. Yaooo! But just in case it got intercepted between China and here, I also had two cups made with the following motive:
I tracked and tracked the parcel, even wrote to the seller explaining that I had to have it before August 20th. So while I was tracking and writing, checking and tracking, the neon lamp was safely ensconced at my local post office three minutes' walk away while I was supposed to know this by telepathy. And so it was that I couldn't get the lamp until yesterday, August 31st. That's when the seller mentioned that it had been delivered on the 16th.
I like it a lot. And isn't it really fairer that I should keep it, after all I've been through? I think so. In fact, if they want it, they can come and get it! Forever.
After losing my friends, I really only have one joy left in life, and that's teaching Cantonese. So I would urge you to start to
Today's Cantonese: 唔好走呀! M hou jau ah! - not good leave, ah! (Don't leave!)