After eating a mouthwatering lunch at Yip Hong, a famous Chinese Restaurant in this side of the world, we decided to go to Superstore to buy weekly food supplies. With my nephew in tow, I was grinning while pushing the cart when I saw a Chinese lady looking and smiling at me.
I thought she’s the same lady that I often had a chance encounter whenever I go to work but I was wrong. All of a sudden, she stopped near our cart and asked me something. The brief conversation went this way:
Lady: Hi! Are you from Huangzhong? Me:Sorry? (I had a clueless expression on my face… I did not quite catch what she said)
Lady: Huangzhong, China. (Smiling with a twinkle in her eyes)
Me: No. Do I look like a Chinese? (I was laughing while talking.) Lady: Yes.
I just smiled and then we went separate ways. I still have that smirk on my face when I turned to my nephew, James.
Me: Do I look like a Chinese? James: No. You look like a Canadian. (Looking at me with an incredibly serious expression on his face)
That did it. I can’t stop laughing while pushing the cart. Merci Beaucoup James! You’re such a sweetheart.
One last note, it’s really strange because I got that all the time…wherever I go, whoever I meet. Ha! I’ve been asked if I’m a Dutch, French, Latin American, Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, and Chinese.
I’ve always thought that if you have good command of the English language, it will be enough to make you “global”. Hence, I did everything within my mighty power to learn English even though I abhor the intricacies of its “technical” aspect.
A lot of people say I speak and write English well… Hmm.… I might have succeeded in a certain way but I know in my heart that I still have a long way to go.
My accent turned topsy-turvy after communicating with people having various mother tongue such as:
Filipino (Ilokano, Tagalog, Bisaya, Ilonggo, etc)
I usually adapt the most prominent accent but my tongue seemed be confused on what accent to follow. Strange huh? Even so, I did manage to improve my accent slowly and it got better when I worked at HSBC. We were dealing with American clients, so, we were taught to neutralize our accent to minimize communication barrier. After a few months, I can already speak English with that American twang.
However, when I went to work in Singapore, I needed to unlearn that American twang and speak English the “local” way inorder to get the message across and minimize receiving blank stares. (See related article -> Singlish).
Now, I need to unlearn the Singlish and bring back the North American way of speaking English. It’s a work in progress and it’s a bit difficult because I’ve also adapted the unresponsive nature of Singaporeans. It’s a total struggle!
Looking at the brighter side of things, I know things will work well in the next couple of months. The naturally bubbly, giggly. and chatty me will soon surface.
How to think English is also added in my to do list. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not removing Ilokano and Tagalog in my system. I’m a Filipino and will always be. I just want to improve myself and make my Mama proud (wherever she is now). (Note: Writing is given. :p)
Thus, my mantra now is: “I must speak English and think English.”