Friday, February 02, 2007

Things are looking up. I had my first Chinese lesson yesterday and I start classes on Monday. I really like the teacher- she's very enthusiastic and easy to get along with. She taught me bopomofo, the phonetic alphabet they use here- well, showed it to me; I still need to memorize it. For some reason it intimidates me terribly. My roommate learned it in like 3 days but I feel like I will be using a Pinyin cheat sheet for a long time. Eh, we'll see. I definitely feel like it will help my pronunciation- there are a couple of sounds that I feel like, oh, now I understand how to say them. She said the class knows about 100 characters now. She said, "When you said you know a few characters, maybe you are just being modest?" and I was like, no.... So I will have some catching up to do but I think it will be a good thing.

Here's a picture of a place I pass everyday on my way to the train station. It's a dog training place, I think. I'm sure it's a literal translation of something that's very idiomatic in Chinese, but it's so funny in English- like they are expecting so much from their dogs. I picture a little puppy coming for his first dog-training lesson and looking at the sign and thinking, Wow. This is going to be tough.
Dogs occupy an interesting place in the culture here. Some people keep them as pets and take care of them with an American standard of care. There are a bunch of vets on my street that do a good business. Then there are some people who don't care for their dogs in the way we would expect. Like one day I rode by this guy who had this cage just filled with half-grown beagles and he was beating on the cage with a stick and making them bark a lot. And when I rode by again an hour later he was still beating on it with a stick. So weird.
Then there are the street dogs. I don't know if they are abandoned pets or just breed on their own. They are all mutts and usually pretty friendly to humans. Some look pretty decent and others are pretty scruffy. They just walk around and get food. Some of them form little packs and harass other dogs.
They give me hope that if they can survive in Taiwan, I can. Like back when I caught the bus, several times when I got off at night I would see this one dog growling at this pack of dogs and they would be mean to him. One day he ran across this 5-lane road and totally waited for cars to go by and when the coast was clear her ran, which was impressive because I can barely safely cross this road when I have a green light. Other times you will see dogs just laying in a sunny spot in the middle of the street, sleeping, and everyone manages not to hit them.


Lucy said...

If you take some pictures about the sleeping dogs on the middle of the street, it will be interesting!

Taiwan-Teacher said...

You're right; I need to start keeping my camera with me more often.
I was out in service in a park today and there were people getting their pictures taken and this dog ran over and got in two of them, almost like he knew what he was doing. Such a ham!