|Many rainy afternoons spent drinking tea and studying Chinese.|
Three weeks after moving here and into my second apartment (the first with my own room), I quietly entered a tea shop just down the street, curious as I had heard many good things about Taiwanese tea. Beyond numbers, some basic foods and the word for tea (chá), I knew not a lick of Chinese, and it became very apparent as soon as the woman inside the shop began talking to me. I use the term "talking" loosely as I feel it implies conversation and comprehension, neither of which was present. I tried acting out that I was curious and just wanted to look, pointing to my eyes, saying "no buy," but she continued picking up different packages of tea and offering to put them in a bag for me to buy. She called in a young girl off the street who spoke some broken English. "Do you need my help?" I tried to explain to her that I just wanted to see what she had, to no avail. At this point I panicked and felt my best option was to retreat. I backpedaled slowly towards the door, bowed and said "Xièxiè" as I exited, leaving the scene quickly. Not exactly graceful, but I wasn't sure what else to do and it seemed alright at the time. I sure hope she was not offended.