The Most Embarrassing Moment while I Speak Chinese
National Yang Ming University- Idrissa Beogo
Taipei-Nantshjao-Sinthiou-Nantshjao-Taipei has been the itinerary of the fastidious day journey I have achieved during my stay in Taiwan. This is a narration of a journey paved in my mind as a film band. It was a mix of feelings, fear, challenges, risk taken, and shame experienced because of my poor level in Mandarin. The purpose was to please a friend who has paid me visits many times. My misfortune began at Taipei Main Station. However I successfully got the appropriate ticket (for roundtrip), I missed the programmed departure. I guessed I completely understood the contrary meaning of what the officer told me in Chinese and I acquiesced. Once in the train gate I badly could not meet someone early to guide me to the right train. My train was moving when I was trying to make myself understand through my flat tone mandarin. The following train I caught could not provide me for a seat. So I stood up to the destination, the first one. Following the train, the final destination has to be accomplished by bus. Here came another challenge, getting the given bus. I could not remember how many persons I requested to reach the bus station. The only phrase I could repeat easily combining the correct tone was “I want to go to Nantsjiao” starting by sorry or hello. After heading to the station for a while, everyone I came across got the misfortune to be inquired. At the end, I was embarked by two gentle guys in a luxurious car. The innovative stratagem I used was to attract their confidence by quickly showing my student ID card while intermingling in my discourse English and the pitiable Mandarin. Of course, I could not understand the sort conversation they had but I realized my praying were fulfilled when more than five times my vis-à-vis repeated “ok, ok…” and concomitantly opened the their car door. By this time where human being traffic was a lucrative business, in other world, I would have kindly reject the proposition arguing anything. What amazed me, the seeking station is besides the train station I just dropped, in the back side with a corridor heading to. I took the ticket to Nantsjiao. At this middle point of the journey I have realized my English seems useless to interact.

The first bus marked a stop; I rushed to get in. The controller said something of course I could not catch. I went to the ticket who mentioned “Bu-shi” pointing the bus. I understood it is not the one I will be taking. For further precaution, I stood up nearby until he pointed other that just came. It was a kind of intra-intercity bus with many stations. At of the numerous stations, a guy, new client got in and sat in my left side. Talkative indeed but pleased to share time with a foreigner certainly more excited because I am a black, rare opportunity to chat friendly. He asked me several questions including the country I am from (what I seized), and some others I could understand but tried answers expecting they will match. I thought he gauged my incapacity to seize further and speak more than what I did. He tried to let me enjoy traditional music recorded in two cell phones increasing the loud sometime and asking if it was nice (I guessed). I invariably reply yes in Chinese. The time spent with him seems to short although I took a half an hour, my fear was to find the plaque indicating the name of my destination. At one of the station I felt the bus was empty. I followed the move placing myself at last of the queue. But, wisely I behaved in such a manner that I was not going out but searching for further inquiry. I asked the driver “Nantsjiao, Nantsjiao…” by pointing the station. He took of his hand from the gear lever and said no and pointing forward. My destination was the bus terminus where my adrenaline flux ended. I toppled into eating party (appreciated by Taiwanese). I could not tell you I was embarrassed by the size of my stomach as much dishes proposed were varied and all delicious. My return back is another story.