Lost in Translation


So I broke my phone. It was already held together with duct tape, thanks to dropping it in Vietnam, but when I fell off my chair tutoring a student, the screen went green.

I was 痛不欲生 .

English translation: overwhelmed with sorrow.

It’s not that I was in love with my Samsung phone I got free at Costco for signing the dotted line on a Verizon contact, but gosh, I didn’t want to dish out the mao to buy a new one.

But I did. And I got a Huawei.

English translation: Apple, watch out.

The store was a lot like an Apple store, but the phones are either a metallic pink or bronze, the techie was pencil thin and without a soul patch. We talked—or communicated with Baidu translate. He’d speak into his phone, it would spit out Chenglish and I’d laugh, then say something back. I wanted him to salvage as much as possible from my smashed device–held together with duct tape.

The HauWei’s agent’s first message:  Files on phone  upside down.

I say  something back and he laughs. I see the word facebook translate onto his screen as football.  Then he speaks into his phone again and it says: You can get folders in the sky.

Meaning: Hey, if you want apps, download them, yourself.

This isn’t easy in China, thanks to the Great Fire Wall, which is really problematic due to the recent terrorist attack in Manchester. Jokes aside, I truly believe they comb through every email after these ungodly incidences, slowing down the internet speed to the dial up screeching modem days, followed by Mr. AOL’s greeting, “Welcome, you got mail!”

As  Mr. Huwei he rings up my bill, I look at the slick models in the posters  covering the walls, one being Scarlett Johansson. I think of her movie with Bill Murray, lost in translation. So ironic that she is their cover girl.

But nothing really was lost in translation. We both laughed and I was thankful that this guy was able to save a few pictures and my WeChat contact list.

So now I’m in Bangkok, downloading the apps on my phone that are hard to get in China, like Epub reader,  in a hotel that’s $12 a night (meaning, bring your own toiler tpaper).  I need Epub my book club, where i meet the most eclectic group of ExPats in Kunming. Sentences often start something like, “So, I read that Donna Tarte book while riding a barge down the  Mekong River to Cambodia...”

Who cares about the book, even though I adore the author–I want to hear about the barge ride!

His life sounds more interesting than fiction, which I can now read thanks to my   EPub app (which I couldn’t download in China) and that funny voice translator app, which is even funnier when the prompts come up in Thai, a language that looks like it is written with a frosting tube.

Laughter needs no translation. And either does this book:  Book-Joy-Lasting-Happiness-Changing.

Which I can now listen to on Audible.com, on my new HuaWei phone.






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