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A Short Conversation With my Barber

Today was special, not least because I bought a nice pair of boots to go hiking around in, I also got my hair cut.

Having conversations in Chinese these days are hugely amusing to me. The actual act of speaking is difficult, and it’s only after I step back and look at the conversation as a whole that I realize what exactly we’ve been talking about.

After reading what we talked about, you can probably guess that everything revolved around a Chinese persons favorite conversation topic: Money.

HAIRDRESSER: Short enough?

ME: A little shorter. Really short, like the army, you know?

HARIDRESSER: Ah. I don’t want to cut it. Not many foreigners come here. Blond hair…very beautiful. You sure you want it this short?

ME: Sure.

HAIRDRESSER: Where are you from?

ME: England.

HAIRDRESSER: London? You know Beckham?

ME: No. Manchester. London’s in the south, Manchester’s in the north. I’m from Manchester

HAIRDRESSER: Oh.

ME: I can’t understand your Yunnan accent very well.

HAIRDRESSER: I can’t speak Standard Mandarin!

ME: Ok. Well, I live and work in Beijing.

HAIRDRESSER: You speak Chinese pretty well. Do you work with Chinese people? And you came to Kunming?

ME: No, I’m an English teacher. My colleagues are all foreigners. No Chinese. I came to Kunming to see the sights.

HAIRDRESSER: Oh. On the plane?

ME: Yes. First, I went to Chengdu. I have friends there.

HAIRDRESSER: Oh, friends!

ME: Chinese friends.

HAIRDRESSER: Chinese!

ME: Yes.

HAIRDRESSER: How much was the ticket?

ME: From Beijing to Chengdu?

HAIRDRESSER: Yes.

ME: 680RMB

HAIRDRESSER: How much from Chengdu to Kunming?

ME: About 500rmb…I can’t remember clearly.

HAIRDRESSER: I see. How long have you been in China?

ME: About three years.

HAIRDRESSER: Live in Beijing. Hmmm…you look good.

ME: Er. Thanks. I eat lots of fruit.

HAIRDRESSER: How much is a haircut in England?

ME: I really don’t know.

HAIRDRESSER: You can tell me!

ME: I went home once in three years. I really don’t know.

HAIRDRESSER: Guess. Roughly

ME: Probably about ten pounds.

HAIRDRESSER: Ten pounds? That’s 106rmb.

ME: I don’t know. I’m not good at maths.

HAIRDRESSER: How much is a haircut in France?

ME: I don’t know…I’m not French.

HAIRDRESSER: How much is a haircut in America?

ME: I really don’t know. I’ll ask my American friend for you.

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