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The smell of fresh dumplings

By on Jul 29, 2014 in Life in Yunnan | 4 comments

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A while ago the key to my electric scooter’s lock suddenly stopped working. I had just finished a morning session at the cerebral palsy clinic where I volunteer, and I needed to go to a teaching job in the city. Needless to say I was less than amused when I could not get the lock off the bike. In a huff I set off to catch a bus across the city only to discover that I had absolutely no cash to pay for bus fare. I raced to an ATM, drew money and by that time I was so late for my next job that I had to take a taxi to get there. After teaching I went back to the tiny back road that our clinic is on in the hope of finding someone who could help me free my e-bike from the lock. After about an hour of trying to convince various shop owners to come help me angle grind the lock off the bike I finally found someone who was willing to believe that I was not trying to steal someone else’s bike. He took ages to grind the lock off but finally managed. I went back to his shop to him, only to watch him set off down the street again in the search for some change to give me. As I sat on my e-bike contemplating what a mission the day had turned into, I heard a voice a little bit away from me say: “What is this?! An e-bike?” I turned to look, an old blind man, in a dark blue Mao suit, had walked into an e-bike parked a bit away from me. He was tapping the bike with his cane, muttering, “E-bikes, e-bikes, always blocking my way”. Outside the dumpling shop Dumpling shop A different voice piped up from inside a shop nearby: “Yes it is an e-bike! Where are you going?” The old man replied, “I am going to buy dumplings. I can smell them, are they close by? They smell so good!” Laughingly the voice from inside the shop said: “Yes you are very close, only about 4meters away. Turn to your right and walk 2meters, then turn left and walk 4meters. You will find the dumpling shop then!” “Oh good!” said the old man, “I have been following the smell from the bottom of the street. It is a very fresh smell, it makes me hungry!” Banteringly the old man and the voice continued to chat about how to get to the dumpling shop and what he would be buying once he arrived at the smell that so tantalized him. I sat quietly on my e-bike marveling at how happy everyone around me seemed. Whether they were blind, walked into an e-bike, or whether they have been working non stop since that morning they all were joking and laughing together. Suddenly my little mission of removing a lock from my bike seemed like quite a happy adventure added into my otherwise normal day. The shop owner finally returned with my change, loudly telling everyone willing to listen how the foreigner could not unlock her bike and he had to help grind the lock off. I smiled and waved to those who could see and called good bye to the old man, who by then was happily munching away on his fresh dumplings, only stopping to mutter a surprised “Lao wai lai le ma?!” – “The foreigners came?!” The smell of fresh dumplings


  1. Rachel G

    September 5, 2014

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    This story gave me the biggest smile. This is why my Mandarin needs to improve. When people are speaking directly to me, my comprehension is pretty good, but I can’t eavesdrop well at all. And Angel has been eyeing the e-bikes everywhere, he wants one!
    Rachel G recently posted…To Give More Than We Can SpareMy Profile

    • Corlie

      September 6, 2014

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      E-bikes are amazing! I don’t know what I’ll without mine. As for eavesdropping, it is the greatest reward for all those hours of Chinese class 😉

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