I haven’t been so embarrassed for a long, long time. Yesterday morning after my half hour run, I stopped by the soy bean milk man’s van to get a packet of soy bean milk for the girls. I buy soy bean milk and bean curd from this man very regularly. That morning, a lady who looks like an Indonesian greeted me in Cantonese “joa sun, oi mee yeh leng lui?” (good morning, what do u want pretty girl?). I was not surprised that the Indon lady could speak good Cantonese. Many foreign workers in our country speak fairly good Mandarin and Cantonese.
It was the first time I saw this lady and I have known this soy bean milk man for almost 10 years. So I asked the man this “lei ke sun koong yan ar?” (is that your new helper?)…. to which he replied “ngor loa por geh” (my wife’s)…. to which I said “oh, lei gei loa por koong yan lei geh?” (oh, that’s your wife’s helper). The soy bean milk man then corrected me “um mai, koa kor hai ngor loa por lei geh” (no, that’s my wife). When I heard that, I was flushed and malu. Oh gosh, what did I just say? I just said that his wife looks like an Indon maid, oh no… how could I have said such a thing?! I should have zipped my gap and not ask him anything. I was really expecting the man to be offended as he isn’t the friendly and cordial type of person but thank God, he wasn’t angry a wee bit. He was explaining to me why his wife was there and blah blah blah. When I learned that the Indon lady is his wife, I gave her a 2nd, 3rd and 4th look, just to be doubly sure that she’s an Indon. I am quite certain that she is an Indon as she was talking to another Indon lady there in Indon language. And each time I looked at his wife, this lady gave me the most polite smile and thank you nod (to thank me for patronizing them).
Moral of the story is, if you are not sure of something and if you do not know the person very well, don’t ask the person any question that is quite personal. Just keep the curiosity to yourself to save yourself from embarrassment and possible chiding off!
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