Cold Austrian Nights

Well, no. Today wasn't that cold (according to my Austrian friends). I agree. I'm wearing to layers of clothes and it does feel warm.

Last night, I almost went into hypothermia (I think). I was sleepy at around 10.30pm right after my Quiet Time (prayer and bible reading) and dozed off without my socks. At midnight, I got up gasping for breath. Think asthma. But I'm not asmathic. I think my nose got stuffed and the temperature got too cold. My knee-jerk response was to put on my pair of socks (which I bought from Mydin's in KL). Don't count on Mydin's for winter apparel.

But tonight was warm. Both in temperature and texture.

I just got back from a Chinese restaurant. The past two nights, my colleagues have been taking me out for dinner. They've been very sweet and generous. All three are ladies. And they're nice to be around. Funny, serious and full of sincerity (especially when it comes to getting work done and making coffee).

But tonight, I was on my own. In Austria, everybody speaks Deusch (German). It's either Deusch, or you're screwed. Well, the Chinese restaurant I went to operated in German. I knew I would be on my own, and rehearsed my German script.

"Isch Hattuh Gairn Rindfleisch nach Sichuan-Art und Yasmin Tee?"

And I did quite alright ordering my Beef Sichuan-style dish and Jasmine Tea. The dishes arrived as ordered. (I wonder if that was beef or frog). 30 minutes later, I broke into German again.

"Tsahlen, danke.."

And she brought me the bill. It came to Euro (pronounced 'auro') 8.45. You're supposed to tip. Rule of thumb: Round it up to the nearest, my nearest should have been nine. But for convenience I offered euro ten by saying "schtimpt!". Which simply means "keep the change".

It doesn't stop here. I knew I just had to...

I broke into Mandarin!

"Err.. Ni keyi chiang Hwa Yue?" to which a look of amazement smoked her face. Her family members (I assume) who were waiteress and cook looked at me in pleasant astonishment with grins. In noticed the waitress stopped sweeping the floor. Probably wondering how this Deusch-speaking, non-Austrian looking gentleman could converse in their native tongue. But I qualified myself by saying, "Duobuichi, wo keyi chiang yi tien tien.." "Wo chai Malaisie.." (I only speak a little Mandarin, I'm from Malaysia).

Later, I tried to ask for a receipt in Deusch. She didn't know what a receipt meant. I showed her line in the phrase book I had. That too was unfamiliar. When we said good bye, we greeted blessings to each other in Mandarin, followed by Auf Wiedersehen.

Alone in a foreign land can be linguistically frustrating, socially challenging but totally fun. I need to learn German, sharpen my Mandarin and one day by God's grace, figure out Tamil.

Here are some photos I promised to post:

Me and Quinton (top)

JJ and Lorri (top)
John and Quinton (top)
Sharon Mumper (top)
My mommy (top)


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