I just thought I’d share a few choice quotes from our conversation with an old mountain-climbin’ Hakka lady, who we ran into while hiking to Yuantong Temple (圓通寺) in Zhonghe a few weeks ago. She was praying at a pretty interesting shrine as we approached and stopped to chat with us after we tried to figure out the meaning of some graffiti nearby. I'll post a picture when my camera stops being annoying.
Joseph originally thought it meant “The KMT and the Communists should get together and take over Taiwan”, but she said no, some “bad DPP people” wrote it and it says “The KMT and Communists are going to get together and take over Taiwan” (implying that this is a bad thing). She went on to ask us about ourselves and have what I can only describe as a transcendently funny chat with us – all in Chinese, of course.
Some of her more interesting quotes:
“Are you married? Yes? Have kids? No? Oh, good! Don’t have any. I have three and they were a big waste of my time and money. I gave up my life to raise them and they don’t take care of me. They’re not filial! Just don’t have kids. It’s better. I wish I hadn’t had them.”
“Taiwanese kids don’t study hard enough.” (I disagreed, saying that compared to American kids, Taiwanese students were total bookworms). “No! They don’t! They are not hardworking like we were. Every day I had to walk up and down the mountain with a basket of fruit on my back. Every day! I had to study, too, even though I was tired from carrying so much fruit. Try to get a Taiwanese kid to do that now. They can’t! They’re lazy.”
She was delighted that we could speak a few snippets of Hakka, especially Joseph: “Oh, your girlfriend is Hakka from Miaoli? You should definitely marry her. Hakka girls from Miaoli are the prettiest and the most hardworking. She will work very hard and be a good wife.”
“ You know, Taiwanese girls, they like white men. That’s because they want to have beautiful babies, so they want to have babies with foreigners. Usually they like the white ones, but some of them like the black ones, too. I don’t know why. They are so dark and their teeth are so white!” (She said it, not me!)
“Oh, your eyes are so pretty!” (to me). “They look just like Chiang Ching-kuo’s…” (me: “Um, I don’t think my eyes resemble Chiang Ching Kuo’s”). “…wife!” “Huh?” “Your eyes look like Chiang Fangliang’s eyes!”
For those who don’t know, Chiang Fangliang, Chiang Ching-kuo’s wife, was Belorussian. It is true that being Polish and Armenian, I basically look very Eastern European and Chiang Fangliang’s facial structure does somewhat resemble mine. That said, I Googled pictures of her – her eyes are quite clearly brown and mine are blue. I just don’t see the resemblance.