Finally, after at least a week's waiting followed by a hard ten-minute slog down to the local UPS - which doubles as a driving school - I am now the relieved owner of this book. Now, at last, I will be able to answer my students' questions about Chinese characters properly; not just say "shut up or I'll stab you with a pen" as was my wont when I lived in Hong Kong.
This is the book I have always been looking for, although obviously not very hard, as it was written in 1965.
Of course the language is Mandarin (hnnnnnnnn) and the worst stupid spelling at that, with k'hsiengggg or whatever instead of - well, some Mandarin word - but I won't have to worry about that as it's I'm ONLY interested in the etymology of for example 獻 (hin) - to offer, to curry favour. Of course! It is "to offer in worship to the deceased ancestor the cooked flesh of a fat dog"! Hence 犬 （hyun, dog) and 廬 (lou, cauldron).
So now it's safe to come out again, people all over the world who want to learn Cantonese! There will be no stabbing, only explanations. (Unless you live in Palma of course).
Welcome to Palma and the World Cup! I notice how much I actually like football again, when I can watch it at 2pm, 5pm and 8pm - NOT 11pm, 3am or 5am! Oh, it's so civilised.
I don't know which team to support - I tried Korea, they lost. Japan - draw. I suppose I should support Spain now, but oh! My friends are Mexican and Colombian! I met two Colombians at the Spain versus Morocco game last night, and I could recognise their accent from the hit TV show Narcos! Or maybe that was just because I knew they were from Colombia. At least I restrained myself from suddenly blurting out "Mira me, hombre!" (look at me, man) or "Plata o plomo" (silver or lead, a favoured invitation by the cartel to pay up or die). Yes, the little Spanish I know comes from the series Narcos...
I enjoy many things about Europe. Oh! And today it was 34 degrees celsius, I took at 45 minute dog walk and came back without sweating at all.That's my kind of summer!
Did you think I had stopped teaching Cantonese? Not at all. I'm still as fundamentalistically fighting for the world supremacy of Cantonese as ever before, here in my little corner of Spain. It's just that it's now mainly by Skype.
I have one student, for example, who is (I have to laugh) a Hong Kong girl living in Switzerland learning Cantonese from me, a Norwegian! That's globalism at its best for you. As I looked at the photo above,. But would you know it, the same day I got a message from one of my fellow Canto-activists, Darry Chan, asking me to shoot a video of "my new life". YESSSSS!
I'm doing it.
And here I don't have to worry about the scene being washed away by torrential rain, because it won't rain again until October! Ha ha ha ha ha
So watch this space, the video production has started again and the Canto never went away! There are many benefits to studying by Skype.
1. You can study whenever and wherever it suits you - in the famous comfort of your own home, for example!
2. It's cheaper
3. There's no violence!
你今年一定要學廣東話！ (lei gam lin yat deng yiu hok Gongdungwah!) This year you have to learn Cantonese!
My mother Elsa would have been 90 years old today, had she not died 10 years too soon. Here's to you, mother, wherever you are! You gave me a lot, including a love of words and a deep hatred of fish. And I have never stopped doing the dishes properly like you taught me.
And: 20 years ago today, Norway beat Brazil in the World Cup. So I'm celebrating my mother's birthday in absentia and fond memories of her 70th birthday when all the birthday guests sprinted back to her house after a hastily eaten birthday dinner in a nearby restaurant, to watch this momentous victory on TV, by going to Three Lions to watch Korea versus Mexico. And with some cerveza as well, although I normally drink white wine now. I owe my mother some celebratory football today.
This happened yesterday:
I had ordered three books on Amazon: Maps of Meaning by my new hero Jordan B. Peterson, Chinese Characters, their origin, Etymology, Classification and Signification (I WILL get to the bottom of this!) and Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and The Final Solution in Poland (how we would all be nazis if we lived in nazi-times), and yesterday they were delivered after only four days' waiting.
Cool! Because another parcel I was waiting for was being held at ransom by the customs in Madrid for more than a month. I am wary of deliveries now. And unlike hong Kong where they call and call, here they just turn up at, say 2pm, expecting you to be home. So, anyway, I glanced at the label, it had my name and address on it, I signed.
This is what I found in the parcel:
What the? Oh Amazon! How could you, etc. I got on the old customer service, they said they would refund my money but I could keep the books and here's a US$5 coupon. Awwww, excellent. Great service! Then I got on Facebook to find "hey did you get my birthday present? I bought it on Amazon!" Oh crap. By an amazing coincidence my friend Cathy in the US had bought me these books. And right enough, at the bottom of the parcel was a little wrinkled-up note: I know you will revel in all the delights of your new home, especially culinary. Can't wait to visit".
What I learnt: Never think something I ordered four days earlier can be here already. Oh and always look at all the things in a box before I sign.