Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Mona Lisa and puppies

Dafen Oil Painting Village is in a suburb of Shenzhen, and it's where pretty much every "artwork" you've ever seen in a hotel comes from.  Founded in the early 90s, it's populated by artists who make their living churning out paintings - replicas of classics and a few original works.  A lot of them are trained at art academies and are highly-skilled, and it's the place to go for all of your high midbrow needs.


Artists work in studios the size of closets -

Or on the street -

Works display various skill levels.

Steve Jobs taking his rightful place in the Chinese canon -

Bring a photo and have portraits done!

Some of the gallery owners are quite young -

Pick a pop culture icon - ANY pop culture icon! 

The art form has evolved - this place leveled up and was selling paintings with built-in aquariums.

And miscellaneous other photos from the village -

And finally, a naked Bruce Lee about to have his way with... something.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Being "nervous" in Hong Kong

While dealing with the cat situation the other day I ran across a word I've heard several times in several different situations in Hong Kong - "nervous".  

When dropping Hoggie at the vet she went berserk and raced around the office leaving a trail of destruction in her wake.  The vet tech said she was just nervous.

Calling yesterday to see how she's recovering, the vet said she's doing well but a bit nervous.

The other times I've heard this word were last year when in the hospital, sobbing after a miscarriage (the nurse told me "Don't be so nervous") and more recently being admitted to the hospital for a broken bone and being irritated I had to stay overnight (again, "Don't be nervous").

What's the meaning of the word "nervous" in Cantonese and what's the word it's being translated from?  In English, you're nervous before a job interview or a first date.  It indicates a lesser level of upset - something akin to being jumpy, easily startled, or worried.  The level of distress indicated when native Cantonese speakers use "nervous" seems to widely vary from "slightly agitated" to "panicked" to "inconsolable".

Any native speakers care to weigh in on this?

EDIT:  Got some interesting feedback when I posted this on another message board.  See below for comments - 

Native speaker here 緊張: nervous, anxiety, fast-paced
It actually does mean a lot. A few examples (colliqual):
我好緊張 (Ngo Ho Gan Jeung) - "I am very nervous" also can mean different things if you say:
我緊張你多過自己 (Ngo Gan Jeung Ni Doh Gwo Ji Gei) - "I care more about you than myself" so it could mean you really care about some one (expression of love) as well.
劇情好緊張 (Kek Ching Ho Gan Jeung) - The drama is very fast-paced, exciting, edge of the seat feeling
唔好緊張 (Ng Ho Gan Jeung) - Nurses would say that, as in "Don't feel anxious" and relax your muscles, usually. Sometimes its 唔洗緊張 (Ng Sai Gan Jeung) in a way it means don't be over-anxious on the issue, just relax it will be fine sort-of statement.

Another responder commented this:

I'm not a native Canto speaker but I do speak Canto with my folks when I'm home so my insight may be incorrect. From my comprehension and from the way I usually use "nervous" or "gan zeong", I usually use it in situations that cause stress, worry, or fear. But yeah, it's a much more comprehensive term than it's English counterpart. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Just another day in the village

I've previously posted about our favorite village cat, Hoggie.

A few days ago I noticed that Hoggie had a nasty gash behind her front leg.  It looked infected and swollen and generally awful, so I sought the advice of Crazy Cat Guy.

Crazy Cat Guy lives a few houses over in our village and can often be seen feeding cats, talking to cats, carrying a wailing box of cat to who-knows-where with a pack of cats on his heels, so I figured he'd know what to do.

He gave me some ointment to put on the wound but it didn't seem to get better so I borrowed a cat carrier and headed to the vet this morning with a howling Hoggie in tow.

Limping the eight blocks to the vet, sweating and swearing profusely in the rain, with a screaming cat and a foot brace that decides to break halfway through the journey and is now flapping around, I get lots of looks.  Most full of pity.  Some amused.  All punchable.

I arrive and they recognize Hoggie because Crazy Cat Guy has brought her in before.  It turns out her "real name" is Astoria.  Oh, that's nice.
Hoggie/Astoria FREAKING OUT and waiting to be seen by the vet.

The vet calls me in and opens Hoggie's carrier to examine the cut and Hoggie emerges like a cat out of hell.  She jumps from the table screaming bloody murder, then up the wall - taking down the cordless phone and the miniblinds - then circles the room bellowing until presented with her carrier.  She bolts in, leaving a trail of destruction and a terrified vet in her wake, and cowers in the corner.  Okay.

The vet tells me that Hoggie will need to be sedated to get stitches because she's "wild".  I try to explain that she's really very sweet, but the vet is hearing nothing of it.

After filling out endless forms stating that I'm financially responsible, that I understand the risks of sedation, etc., a vet tech comes to take Hoggie away, and recognizes her -  

Vet tech:  Oh!  Astoria is sweet kitty!  Love!

Vet:  *confused look*

I'm supposed to go pick her up in a few hours but she'll need to wear the cone of shame for at least a week.  How do I manage this?

UPDATE:  Hoggie is still at the vet, as the wound was deeper than initially thought.  She'll be home in a few days and due to cooperative effort between Crazy Cat Guy, Nicey Girl (another neighbor), and me, she will be taken care of.  Village power activate!