...I do not think it means what I think it means.
The kanji for 'desk' in Japanese is most likely a verb of some sort in Chinese, and one that has to do with cars and airplanes to boot. And ah, China. Home of some very simplified kanji. It's interesting to try and decipher them as I flit about town - the kanji for 'east' and 'car' have become the same thing. It also appears to my jaundiced Japanese-reading eye that Chinese is entirely a language of concepts and little else. For instance, 'Caution, Wet Floor' becomes 'Small Heart Ground Slip' which has a certain charm to it, but is certainly odd looking to someone accustomed to grammatical markers. I'd like to buy some okurigana, please.
It's also taxing my non-Joyou kanji reading ability to the max, because kanji are the only clues available as to whether that menu item I'm pointing at is intestines or boneless chicken breast. As one might imagine, my gaffs lead to hilarity.
Case in point: our drinks come out at dinner tonight. Andy and I have ordered the 'Asian Hebal Beverage' (which turned out to be sugarcane juice), while Melissa ordered orange fanta. Our drinks were cold. Hers was not. Watch as I attempt to procure some ice for Melissa:
Me: //writes the kanji for 'ice' on the chopstick wrapper and shows it to the waitress//
Me: (echoed by Greek chorus of my friends) "Ice!"
Me: "Ice! Ice!"
The waitress looks over my shoulder. Melissa nods encouragingly, and points to her glass of orange fanta with a brilliant smile on her face.
It is at this point that I realise that I have, in fact, written the kanji for 'eternity,' instead of the kanji for 'ice.' No wonder our poor waitress is confused. (If you're wonder why I realised this, it's because 'yong an li' is a stop on the Beijing Metro - that would be 'ei an ri' or 'Eternal Safe Village' in Japanese). It's amazing how that one little stroke will getcha.
I managed to order some very good food, but it also happened to be very, very spicy hot. I thus dredged up the kanji for 'coconut' (learned from a BL novel I'm currently reading) in order to order some coconut milk to help neutralise the spiciness. Melissa, unfortunately, cannot handle spice well, so my mission was now to get a menu to order new food.
I tried the Japanese compound for menu, with the full expectation that it would be nonsensical to our waitress, which it was. Much pointing, miming and grunting ensued before we were able to get the menu. It then occurred to me that of the three dishes I'd ordered, all were hot, right down to the vegetables, which had come loaded with black pepper. For all I knew, the regional cuisine we were eating was all very spicy.
So the time comes to pull out my kanji skills again. They can't wait to see what I'll come up with next. My game plan is to write 'bu' which means 'not,' and spicy. Unfortunately, the kanji for 'spicy,' 'bitter,' and 'happy' all differ from one another by a single measily stroke, and I'm not sure I remember which is which. I waffle back and forth a few times, not wanting to accidentally tell our poor waitress that I'm 'not happy' with the menu, but luckily get it right.
And thus dinner was completed - three main dishes, one fanta, two 'Asian Hebal Beverages' and three coconut milks - which cost us all of ten dollars in total.
And yeah, China: I've seen the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Old Summer Palace, Mutian'yu (which is a bit of the Great Wall) Ritan park, and several night markets. Unfortunately, the first three sucked, because they were all shrouded in green tarpaulin, thus destroying any opportunity to actually see them, and all the water was drained from the Palace garden, which sort of defeats the purpose there as well. My guess is that they're all undergoing renovations before the Olympics.
But the Great Wall rocked and rocked and rocked, and I've been to several sweet Buddhist temples as well. More on this later when I've got more time online.
That will be all.