To most foreigners, Hong Kong was a good way to live in China without bothering with the language. Who spoke Cantonese? Locals. And the only ones worth anything all knew English. Those that didn’t, fuck them.
That’s what the drunk American had told Noble in a bar just off Hollywood Road, and it was a mantra that repulsed Noble so much that the same night she heard it, she went back home and searched for her first Learn Cantonese in seven minutes video.
Every day for three weeks she would repeat different words out loud, and trace the strokes of basic Chinese characters and whenever she felt like quitting, she remembered the American and
when that didn’t work
she’d indulge in fantasies
where the Cubans would turn up and ask her to show them around and when Noble took them to the yum cha restaurant near her flat she’d be able to do everything in fluent Cantonese.
The fourth week, the drunk American became so vague in her head that he started to resemble a 190cm silhouette of Peter Falk, but still she continued with the Cantonese
and without spoken practise
cos speaking would involve getting up off the couch and meeting people
and that was no good.
on the couch
Noble stared defiant at the textbook she’d loaned from Shatin library, but the text was too black and the page too cream and none of it was connected to reality.
‘No one understands me,’ she muttered to the table under the textbook. ‘Why is this so hard? I’m a robot. I learnt Slovene in two hours. This should be child’s play.’
The Spanish drama on the TV
linked from online
kept playing in the background
the two actresses telling each other, don’t worry, we’ll get the bastard, there’s no friends left to bail him out.
Noble closed the textbook, picked up the bottle of Tsing Tao and slumped back on the couch, getting through four more episodes before the leash of routine took her to bed.Continue reading