November 4, 2007 - Sunday afternoon

At a donut shop in the avenues, reading Mutant Mandarin, A Guide to New Chinese Slang, by Zhou Yimin & James J. Wang, while under the guidance of his Chinese tutor.

He was reading her passages and asking her if she could understand what he was saying, like this one--

Sometimes he got it right, sometimes he didn't. He wants her to humble him.

His favorite book--The Holy Bible.

Her favorite author--he thought it would be Lu Xun, who compares living in China with a crazy house, with apocalyptic visions of how people treat each other-- but her favorite author is really Xiu-Zhi Me, a poet who writes about beauty in nature.

She moved here nineteen years ago and has been teaching him Chinese for the past two. What she likes about San Francisco--the weather and Chinatown (the one near North Beach). She loves seeing familiar faces, hearing familiar songs.

We talked about the power of immigrant communities, how money will be pooled together to help others in a group achieve a goal, interest free. The Chinese, they said, believe in the simple life and hard work.

In talking about people reading, he suggested that students be paid to read in public, so that others will see them and feel self conscious without a book in their hands. I've lived in San Francisco for over sixty years, he said, and I've never seen anyone reading a book.