Recently the phrase that I have been hearing more than any other is: ‘chotto hen’ (a little strange). This is mainly because the teacher finds my grammatical constructs to be very odd; but its usage towards me is by no means limited to correcting my speech, indeed my homework is also littered with ‘correct grammar, but a little strange’ comments in soul-destroying red ink. And today, when I said that ‘Even though Shi-san looks ill I will not lend him my medicine’, the entire class turned on me with a chorus of chotto hens. Still, at least now I now know that lending someone your medicine is just not the done thing, in any culture.
This afternoon I met my friend Sarah for a coffee at the excellently named ‘Human Relations Café’. I must go to this particular coffee shop at least twice a week, and every time I order the same thing: a Balinese coffee. However, when I place my order I am always asked if I know ‘how to drink’ this cup of coffee, which basically amounts to letting it stand for a couple of minutes. Today I attempted to pre-empt the mini-lecture by telling the waiter that ‘Don’t worry, I know exactly how to drink this coffee’. No sooner had the words left my mouth than I was given 5-minute master class in exactly ‘how’ I should drink the coffee. It must have been something I said, or perhaps I just looked a little bit more chotto hen than usual.