Broken Chinese + Charades- SOL #17


Ring, ring, ring…”Ni hao,” I said as I answered the phone that’s connected to the front door of my apartment building. I had just ordered dinner, and although it seemed too soon for my food to be here, I was hopeful.

A frantic voice on the other end began shouting something in Chinese, desperate to get me to understand what he was saying.

“Sherpa’s ma?” I questioned, wondering if this was my food delivery guy.

More shouting, without confirmation that my food was here.

Thinking that maybe this guy just needed in the building, I pushed the key to let him in. About a minute later, there was a knock at my door. Opening it, I found a security guard yelling in Chinese about something, but I had no clue what he was trying to say.

“Shenme?” I asked, like even if he told me what was going on, I’d actually understand.

At this point, the Chinese was accompanied by charades. I got that he was talking about a bicycle or e-bike by the handlebar gestures.

“Yes, I have a bike,” I said as I nodded, wondering if he was trying to tell me that my bike needed to be moved or that it had been stolen.

Then, he began making the “crazy” gesture, you know the one, where you spin your finger around and around near your ear. Alternating between charades for a bike and crazy, I was so confused. My bike is crazy? You think a crazy person stole my bike? I’m crazy for having a bike?

Realizing he wouldn’t leave, I put on shoes and a coat and followed him downstairs. Once outside, I pointed to my bike, letting him know it was, in fact, still there. And nope, it didn’t look crazy to me. Another security guard joined the party, pointing in the opposite direction, yelling something I couldn’t understand. I continued pointing to my bike saying, “Wo de.” Mine.

Then I heard it. The annoying sound of a bike alarm blaring, over and over. Ohhhh…they thought the bike alarm incessantly going off was mine. The crazy gesture must have had something to do with the sound (or was it that they were going crazy because of it? :)).

Realizing that he called me outside for nothing, I was waved off with a “Dui bu qi.” Sorry.

“Mei guanxi.” No worries. It happens.

And this is why I really should learn more Chinese.


7 thoughts on “Broken Chinese + Charades- SOL #17

  1. Leigh Anne

    I can’t even imagine living in another country. My mom lived in Shanghai for almost a year. Luckily for her, she had an assistant that was also her interpreter. But I know she had times just like this! I admire you both.

  2. tomockthekillingbird

    Ha! Love it. Reminds me of one of my stories where an alarm had been going off from 5 to 7 am on a Sunday. Finally I put some jeans and boots on, no shirt, grabbed a hammer and went looking for that bike. When I found it and started looking for a place to smash the alarm turned off. So I walked away and after about 10 meters it came back on again. I started running toward the bike hammer raised and it shut off again. I looked around for someone with an alarm remote nearby. I gave a few suspicious characters dirty glances, the lot of them.

  3. elsie

    I was hoping your food would arrive when you were downstairs working out the bike issue. I am in awe that you speak any Chinese and can understand some too. Fun story!

  4. Jaana

    加油 for learning any Chinese! Your story reminds me of many funny incidents that happened when I lived in Taiwan!


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