May 4, 2010
Tuesday, May 04, 2010 இ Baŋäŋaz இ 65 comments
When Chinese people meet each other on the streets or talk over the phone the first three sweet letter words would most likely be "吃飽沒?" [chī bǎo méi?] meaning 'have you eaten?' denoting "how are you?" For the very first time I can safely say all the different Chinese dialects would converge on this greetings using the three magical words, thus upholding the culture handed down from our ancestors. Thanks to Autumn Belle for highlighting this is a colloquial which is used mainly in Malaysia and Singapore. Ai Shiang just added in Vietnam as well, yes it may cover South East Asia too. Just learned a new idiom 民以食為天 [mín yǐ shí wéi tiān] literally means people accord food as sky. Food is the God of the people as food comes first, ethical niceties second.
Let's take a trip back to late 80's in DownUnder to relate an incident of a friend who without much knowledge of the dinky di Aussie greetings when he first set foot there was greeted with "How's the going mate?". He replied "I'm going by bus!" and added "Soli you no call my name 'Mike'". Heard the eskimos' greetings is "How's your feet?". How true? Share my first experience while withdrawing money at an Aussie bank, the teller asked me "How do you like it?". I was huh! Dumbfolded for a moment, thinking she must be *siao* crazy, of course I like my money very much. Oops little did I know she was referring to the denomination of the money. Cultural shock! *Blush..paiseh paiseh*
The above is a movie clip from a Singaporean movie "Money Not Enough 2" where the mom suffers from Alzheimer's or in layman's term STML *short term memory loss* and keep repeating "Have you eaten?" 吃飽沒? [chak par boey?] in Hokkien with unlimited and unstoppable times to her eldest son Ah Hooi. Its a comedy film but there are also some sad moments where she was rotated by her three sons into taking care of her. Just a gentle reminder Mother's day is just around the corner. Here's wishing all mothers a Happy Mother's Day ~;)
So what do you eat? That goes without saying, RICE of course. Its the staple food for Asians and very commonly served in every meal without fail unless some may opt for change in appetite to go for bread or noodles once in a while. There is this two words with dual meaning 飯桶 [fàntǒng]. On the bright side a [fàntǒng] *rice bucket* is someone who must eat rice for each and every meal or for scolding someone [fàntǒng] *rice bucket* which is a fathead or good-for-nothing. To avoid any confusion 米 [mǐ] is uncooked rice and 飯 [fàn] is cooked rice ready to be eaten.
Images courtesy of Mei Teng
Of late we often hear over the air our local DJ's trying to educate unreasonable and selfish drivers not to double park and this idiom would say it all. The saying goes "一種米養百種人" [yī zhǒng mǐ yǎng bǎi zhǒng rén] literally means 'one type rice feed hundred type people'. There is no differentiation of what type of rice to feed what kind of people be it the good, the bad and the ugly. There are bound to be stubborn people and it is inevitable we face adamant people who care only about their own convenience which is far beyond our control to change their attitude. So far my record is 'clean' and would like to keep it spotless. BTW do you double park hehe?