Les Interprètes Chapter 10

Qiao Fei

I explained to my mom where I had gotten so much money, we used it for a very long time. I used sign language to say, The teachers and the students helped me a bit. Usually I also work a little. Mom do you not believe me? My studies are very great. Being an interpreter in the big city, there are a lot of opportunities to make money. The senior that just left, did you see him? He is a very good person, he let me borrow a lot of money and helped me find a job, right now, mom, I should go work now.

When I left, my mom gave me a small pocket of tea eggs. I sat on the train to Shen Yang and then boarded another train to the school. It took half of the whole day.

We were already on break, nevertheless, the school had many students who didn’t return home. Bo Bo was inside the room. She was staying here, to accompany her boyfriend who was preparing to take a test.

I rested for a day, and then called the travel agency phone number that Cheng Jia Yang had left for me. The person who answered was a guy, and he spoke very exaggeratedly, a normal local accent.

“Do you need any French interpreters? Cheng Jia Yang gave me your phone number.”

“Ah, so you really did decide to call. I almost thought you had gone missing. Come over a bit and I’ll talk to you about things.”

I found the travel agency, and found Cheng Jia Yang’s friend Wu Xiao Ping. He looked at me, and was a little suspicious, “Miss, how old are you? Have you graduated from high school yet?”

“21.” I made my age higher by a year, “I’m a junior.” Next semester, that is.

“I asked Cheng Jia Yang to find me an experienced translator, why would he give me such an inexperienced person for the job?”

“You haven’t heard me speak French, how would you know I’m not good? Say a phrase and I can translate it into French.”

I thought that this person wouldn’t know any French, and thus, I had said it as a bluff.

The guy laughed, “I got what was coming, Miss, since Cheng Jia Yang believes you, I should also believe you. While in Canada he called many many times to ask me if you had come yet. At this time, I got people to give you information. As it is, the French guests will go to the airport. Going to the restaurant, these type of words should be no problem for you. When you arrive at the country, you’ll just have to accompany them. It’s not that hard.”

The French group should be here within 15 days, and they’ll be going to Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Kunming, Guilin, and Shanghai. At the last stop, Shanghai they’ll go back home.

I bought enough food and water, practicing my French. This was my first real assignment, and Cheng Jia Yang said that I couldn’t neglect the revenues.

Before I went to lead the French group, I went around with Bo Bo to buy some soft-bottomed sandals. In front of the mirror, I looked at my smiling expression, and revealed my white teeth, “SoyezlesbienvenuesenChine!” (Welcome to China)

The second day I picked up about 30 French males and females in the French tourist group. We went to eat the prestigious roasted duck first. The person who sat next to me, a big man, ate about 20 spring rolls, and then pointed at me and asked, “How do you make this chocolate-colored sauce?”

I asked the waiter and he said, “Flour and a special ingredient.”

After I translated the phrase I realized that, “special ingredient”, this phrase was very suitable to answer any of the questions about food.

We went to the hotel, took a break, and then went to the Forbidden Palace. It was currently the tourist season, touring groups came one after another. One one hand, I had to explain all the attractions, on the other hand, I also had to gather all of them together before we moved on to ensure unity, I couldn’t lose even one. Fortunately, work went well, and I explained everything concisely and accurately, even if I wasn’t always fluent in French. The foreigners were amazed at the splendor of the Chinese classical period.

In the next two days, I led the group to see the Ming Tombs and the Temple of Heaven and to the Great Wall of China. At the Ming Tombs, I met another French touring group, and the leader was a guy. They kept with us, at every step, when I allowed the foreigners to freely take pictures, he came up to me and said, “Miss, this is your first job as a tourguide right?”

I had studied in this city for two years, throughout it all there wasn’t any way I could face these kinds of accents but towards people who made fried dough and noodles I felt very good. I drank some mineral water, “Yes.”

“I saw that early on. Yesterday in the Forbidden Palace, I watched you.”

I looked at him.

In this kind of place, a large majority of guys thought that they knew everything.

“Do you know why?”

I drank another cup of water.

“Look at yourself, saying so many words, but you never think it gets tiring.”

I couldn’t tell if this was a compliment or a criticism.

“What are you doing? Don’t you need to explain things to the tourists? How can you lead the tourist group like this?”

“What’s the rush? While you explain things to the tourists, don’t the exhibits also have English? Let the foreigners look at it themselves. I’ll teach you some less tiring tactics.”

I really despised him, “You accompanying my group, isn’t that to also allow your tourists to hear me explain things, so that you can save yourself the effort?”

The guy laughed.

“Ai ya, this is too annoying,” I said in a Dong Bei dialiect. I had always felt that my hometown’s speech was very strong, it was very suitable for scolding people. I dragged my tourist group away, dumping that passerby.

This was an international city, the foreign languages bombard one when they peek into any corner.

The night before we left for Xi’an, my tourist group went to Wang Fu Jing to eat some snacks. The whole street had two kabob stalls. When the foreigners saw the cicadas being placed onto the sticks, they were very curious and stopped walking.

The guy was very clever. When he saw white people, he said, “Hello.”

The French people laughed.

Thus, the guy immediately said, “Salut”, which was the equivalent of “Hello” in French.

The French people were happy, and together said, “Salut. Salut.”

Note: In the next section, the author uses Chinese words to “pronounce” the French kinda like when I use English to ‘pronounce’ Chinese like Xi’an or Wang Fu Jing. So I’m just going to write what the author writes but it’s probably not going to be the same as the actual French. So if anyone knows French and also knows what the author is trying to say I would really appreciate it❤

The French people pointed to the cicadas and asked, “Gua?” (What is this?)

The guy: “Xi Ga Le.” (Cicadas)

The French: “Gao Mang Mang Ri?” (How do you eat this?)

The guy: “Fu Li Le.” (You cook it)

Which emitted another response from him, “Beng” (It’s fragrant)

From curiosity, the French counted all of the people within their group and said, “One.” They ordered twenty kabobs with other meat kabobs. The guy happily received his money and cooked the kabobs.

My heart thought, It’s true that heroes appear in random places ah.

Two days later, when I had worked hard, my throat red and mute, I began to think of what that guy had said to me. Maybe there was a lazier method.

When we arrived at Xi’an, the person who accompanied us was one 40-ish gentleman. I could finally take a break. His French was authentic. Later I would find that he was a lecturer at the local foreign languages institute, teaching professional interpreters. But, the pay for professors there was not high, Xi’an was also another place where tourists came often. Coming out to work, there were many opportunities, and you could also supplement the family income.

I learned another trick from this teacher.

Our hotel stay was very enthusiastic. He arranged a “dumpling feast” to entertain our international friends. Before the banquet, the executive chef personally volunteered, to teach foreigners how to make dumplings. He explained the whole learning by doing, of course, it was entirely in Chinese.

“Please take a look, we are taking the best flour and mushing it into small balls. Using the rolling pin we then roll them into round pieces and then we put the stuffing in. There cannot be too much or too little. Then, we piece the dumpling skin together. Put a finger into the water, and then stick the two sides of the skin together. It can be petal-like or wave-like according to your personal preference.”

Dumplings were classic Chinese food. As the saying goes, “Standing, why not sit, deliciousness cannot surpass dumplings”……..”

I was worried for this teacher. When I saw him drink a cup of water, and then skillfully deflected the French people by saying, “Dumplings are China’s most delicious classical foods. Did everyone see what the chef just demonstrated? Making it like that, you can make delicious dumplings. Make sure you wash your hands. He looked at me, and blinked his eyes, “If you say more than you should, they don’t understand.”

I agreed.

Hearing the English tourists, the Japanese tourists, the Korean tourists, and the Russian tourists, their content was not greater than his. At that time I was pretty happy. I thought I had increased my experience, and learned opportunity, the surest skills.

(Just in case you were wondering…how to make dumplings….)

When we left Xi’an to go to Chengdu, and Kun Ming we talked along the way. These two accompanying people were like the person from Xi’an. He was good at what he did, without effort, I made a lot of tips.

Finally, when we arrived at Gui Lin a mishap occurred, we got off the plane, only to find someone smiling and saying, “Gutentag.”

I said, “What did you say? Here we say Bonjour (hello in french).”

He stopped, “You aren’t the Germany group?”

“France”

We talked some while the foreigners busily organized their luggage.

“Can you quickly find a French person to accompany us?”

“No. Right now is the peak season, so they’re all out.”

I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t looked at the Gui Lin commentary at all.

Can you give me some information? I need to prepare what I have to say.”

“All right, all right, I’ll go back and grab it. Tonight, I’ll just send you to the hotel.” Then he quickly withdrew himself from the group and I didn’t know where he went again.

We went out; besides myself, I couldn’t trust anyone. If I didn’t know this city I wouldn’t be able live today. That German brother didn’t appear again even as we left.

The good part was that we only stayed in Gui Lin for a day. The moment we arrived at the hotel, I asked for the Lijiang tour, and then went to Yangshuo to grab the travel material, so that I could make simple preparations.

After this trip, it could be considered that I had accumulated experience. Before the trip I spoke in light English slowly. The French’s English was not bad, and they could still understand. A few times when they didn’t understand something they would ask me. Last night I had done my preparations, and asked the tourguide a few questions, ruling out any mistakes.

Right when the Gui Lin trip seemed to be underway, some difficulties arose.

Before we went to Shanghai, to prevent special cases from occurring there, I took out the information and lay in bed, practicing. All of a sudden someone knocked on my door. When I opened my door, I saw the big guy who had eaten 20 roasted duck spring rolls in one go. He stood outside, the left side of his face a little swollen. Trembling he asked, “Did I disturb you? My tooth hurts a lot. I want to go to the hospital.”

I wore some clothes and followed him out, fining the nearest dental clinic.

The dentist saw the foreign guest, and was quite warm, and introduced the disease after a careful diagnosis.

It was the afternoon now, dear heaven, at a time when all things wanted to rest, tired me was here to make a consecutive interpretation between a dentist and a patient.

Dentist: “Tooth decay.”

Me: “There is a hole on the tooth.”

Dentist: “The nerves are spilling out.”

Me: “You already feel the pain. Inside the tooth, the insides are spilling out.”

Dentist: “You must kill the nerves, then, diminish the inflammation.”

Me: “We have to take out the inside and then relieve the pain.”

Dentist: “We need to completely remove the plaque, grind it a bit, and then plug the tooth. Choose a solid material. A darker material is good, and the white material is also good.”

This was the last straw, I told the dentist, “Whatever, just do as you want, why talk so much? I’m going to the dentist, and he just takes a drill, and it’s done. Why say so many words?”

This dentist also became annoyed, he looked at me, “Aren’t you still learning foreign languages? How can your teeth be the same as his teeth? Diplomacy is no small matter don’t you know?”

My temper ah, but I could no longer say any French, Chinese was also not possible. I had been too angered by the dentist.

The Frenchman who had the toothache was tortured and struggled up, to me he said, “Whatever way is okay, just tell the dentist to hurry up, I’m going to die.”

The surgery took two hours, and after the man had been anesthetized, he fell asleep. I was by him the whole time. I became so sleepy that things began to blur. It seemed that I saw Cheng Jia Yang, and we returned. He asked me how I was and my right hand tightened into a fist, and I said bitterly, “In my whole life do not ever let the doctor condescend me like that ever again.”

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