A/N: My entry for a writing challenge on Elfwood. The idea was to put together a story from the 4 elements given (a character, a villain, a setting and an action). Mine were a quiet, brown-haired girl who loves to read, a rich and dashing young man whom the girl thinks a villain because she believes all men are out to marry her, a futuristic city and a sinking ship. The result turned out a bit long, though...
You could call this my 'declaration of love' to Taiwan It's the first time I've written a story about my "home" country. If there's anything wrong with the romanisation of the Chinese words, whack me. My Chinese is near nonexistent.
Lightning lashed across the sky, forked trails of light and fire tearing through the darkness like deep scratches made by the unseen claws of nature. The Anna lurched from side to side, her great iron body creaking under the power of the waves. The first ever fully robot-powered ship was losing her battle with the sea.
Every single alarm buzzer was ringing, the robot captain repeating again and again in its monotone mechanic voice, "Emergency. Emergency. Power supply failure. Turbine blockage. Disconnection from motor. Do not panic." No one paid it any heed.
Sailors were rushing up and down deck, yelling at one another over the mighty crashing of the waves, trying to find the emergency submarine on the main computer's electronic map while the screen kept flashing on and off, on and off, on and off, buzzing and humming in an effort to stay on.
"It's down there, there, didn't you see it?"
"If only this stupid thing would work!"
"Emergency. Emergency. Everything is in control. Hello. I am your robot captain, B6-41 to your service." The robot was now spouting all kinds of orders and lines without any particular order, half of them meant for other situations than this.
"Shut up!" a sailor shouted at it, to no effect. A wave washed over deck, its long watery arms reaching for someone, anyone, to pull back into the dark, deadly depths of the sea. Thunder growled overhead like an animal ready to pounce. The storm was only just beginning.
By this time, the robot had been drenched by one wave too much, and spoke only in a form of mechanical gibberish. "How does one put this thing off?" a sailor yelled, looking for one of the ship's numerous computer experts. But those were all downstairs, trying to handle the misbehaving motor.
"What's going on? Are we sinking?" a trembling woman asked, clutching the hand of a sobbing little girl in her own.
"No, don't panic, everything's in perfect control," a sailor tried to reassure her, just as a new wave whacked over deck and tugged a few screws loose. "A robot-powered ship like this can't s–"
With a crash and a crackle, a long finger of lightning snaked from the sky and banged straight into the ship. In a flash, all became dark, every single light went out, and the humming and groaning of the machines stopped.
Total panic broke out. "We're dead!" a frightened passenger screamed. "We've been struck by lightning and we're dead!"
"Don't be foolish! It's just the electricity!" a surprisingly calm voice said out of the dark. A pale beam of light appeared; the man had turned on a torch. "Sailor, do you know where the lifeboat is? This ship is sinking; you should have known better than to take robots from the SALTO firm. In any case, there are twenty passengers on this ship who would prefer to arrive in Taipei alive rather than becoming fish feed."
The sailor nodded quickly. "Y-yes, Mr Ford," he said hurriedly. "We… we'll find the lifeboat right now, sir!" Immediately, the four sailors rummaged through a drawer and found a paper version of the ship plan.
"Well, they're quite more confident with using paper objects now, aren't they?" a bearded old man standing beside Mr Ford chuckled quietly. He pushed his slightly squint glasses further down his nose to look above them.
"This way!" the sailors called, hurriedly walking down a hatch into the ship's belly. One of them disappeared down a corridor to find and save the computer experts.
"Ironic, isn't it," Mr Ford replied, looking down at the little old man, "they use ancient technology only after the owner of the most advanced robot company suggests it."
The old man snapped up, regarding the tall Mr Ford. "So you're the man employing all those children to screw together robot parts for too-low pay, aren't you?" His glare was rather alarming for someone otherwise so friendly-looking. But the glare soon melted away. "Never mind," he said, smiling broadly and holding out his hand. "We can discuss all that later. Anyway, I'm Reverend Harris – Reverend Martin Harris." They shook hands.
"Yup; missionary in Taiwan since the year two thousand. It has changed rather much in the past forty years, but what can one do?" He shrugged and they walked on in silence, following the sailors.
Suddenly, the reverend stopped in his tracks. Even in the faint torch light, Mr Ford could see that the kind, wrinkled face had gone quite thoroughly pale. "Kitty!" the old man exclaimed, and started to hurry back the way they had come as quickly as his short old legs and slightly bent back allowed.
"Wait! Sir!" Mr Ford hurried after him. "What is it?"
"How could I? I'll never forgive myself!" the old man was muttering.
Mr Ford caught up with him. "Where are you going? This ship is sinking; you can't stay on!"
"Exactly!" Reverend Harris exclaimed, determinedly hurrying down a corridor. "You can't let me just leave her here!"
"My daughter! Kitty! I didn't notice that she wasn't coming up with me. Lord, how could I?"
"I can find her," Mr Ford offered. "You go ahead to the submarine, and I'll look for her. I can swim; she'll be safe with me."
Reverend Harris beamed up at him. "Mr Ford, you're an angel from heaven, whatever the tabloids may say! God bless you! Thank you so much!"
Not used to this kind of compliment since he came from a very secular background, Mr Ford just smiled weakly before asking the pastor which room his daughter was in. Then he rushed down the corridor, glancing at each of the cabin numbers. He didn't even really understand why he was doing this – risking his life for the daughter of a rather batty old missionary. But he hurried on, deciding that hesitating would just increase the risk.
At last, he stood before the door to room 303. Remembering his manners, he knocked lightly rather than try to bash open the door. There was no reply. He knocked again, harder. When there was still no reply after his third knock, Mr Ford gave up and – realising that it wasn't locked – pushed the door open.
"Wait, Papa, I have to finish the paragraph…" The girl looked up, brushing a strand of short brown hair behind her ear. As soon as she saw Mr Ford, she froze, her soft brown eyes narrowing to a hard, cold glare. "What do you want?" she asked, slowly closing her book and flashing her torch, with which she had been reading, straight into his eyes.
It took some time for Mr Ford's brain to come alive again. "You must come with me," he said, "quickly."
"Come… with you?" her eyes narrowed into an even harder glare – Mr Ford could hardly believe it possible that such soft eyes could glare so hard. "Why?" She sat back down on her rather messy bed, opening her book once more.
"Please – this is urgent! The ship is sinking!"
"The Anna?" the girl raised an eyebrow. She must be only in her early twenties, Mr Ford realised. "They guaranteed us that it wouldn't sink. Ha! I guess that proves once more that humans can't withstand the force of nature with anything. It'll teach those robot company owners something!" She turned back to reading – ironically, the book was titled The Short Life of the 'Titanic'.
Mr Ford suddenly found that his socks were rather wet. He looked down. The floor was covered in a layer of briny sea water – a layer that was already higher than he would have liked! The girl, immersed in her reading, didn't seem to notice. The world could have ended around her and she wouldn't have looked up before finishing the chapter!
There was nothing else he could do. "What –" She squirmed like an annoyed cat as he lifted her quickly up and headed back out the door, sloshing through the rising water. "Put me down, you!" the girl exclaimed. "How dare you! I won't tolerate this! Take me right back!" In all her kicking and squirming, she accidentally dropped her book. "Oy! My book! Stop!"
Ignoring her angry yells close to his ear, Mr Ford waded on, hoping that he would remember which way the sailors had gone. It wasn't easy in the dark, with only the light from his torch to guide him.
But he should never have worried. At last, he reached the emergency robot-driven submarine – known affectionately as the lifeboat, or maybe only because half the world wasn't accustomed to life-submarines yet – attached to the Anna's side. Everyone was waiting for the two of them, three sailors holding back the reverend so he wouldn't rush out to meet them, jumpy and excited as he was.
As soon as they were safely inside and the doors of the lifeboat whirred shut, Mr Ford breathed a sigh of relief. His thoughts were interrupted, however, by a rather annoyed voice. "You can put me down now, actually." Remembering the girl, he quickly set her back onto her feet. She rushed over to her father, and sat down beside him.
"How dare he!" she whispered to him, loud enough for Mr Ford to hear. "He made me lose my book! Just at the most interesting part!" She turned and glared over her shoulder.
"Kitty, he saved you! You should at least say thank you."
"Papa! He's a man! They're all the same, they all want the same thing!"
"Thank you for being so kind to your dear old father."
"I didn't mean you!" Kitty exclaimed, shocked.
Reverend Harris turned around. "Mr Ford!" he called. Mr Ford came over. "Thank you again, so much, for saving my daughter! We must meet again in Taipei!" He dug in his coat pocket, then his shirt pocket, then his trouser pockets before Kitty helped him and handed him his travel bag, which in all the haste and panic he had actually taken along. He rummaged around inside it for some time, taking out three Bibles, a pile of pamphlets, rather many paper clips, a very battered old teddy bear, as well as the modern visual communication device called a mobile-vision. At last, he retrieved a little box, from which he first removed some pressed flowers before finally taking out what he had been looking for. "My card." He handed it to Mr Ford. "I don't know how I can ever repay you!"
"Oh, your thanks are enough," Mr Ford said kindly, smiling. Kitty glared at him.
"One thing, though," the old man proclaimed, waving his hand in the air as though preaching, "I am never travelling by boat during typhoon season ever again! Robot ship or not!"
"What were you doing in Europe, anyway?" Mr Ford asked, sitting down beside the pastor. Kitty, on her father's other side, intensified her glare.
"Home assignment," Reverend Harris said. "We go to England once a year to give the church some presentations, tell them what we're doing… in other words, begging for support from church members." He grinned. "Kitty's brother needs more money for his school fees! He's studying Theology, you see – in Vietnam! Imagine that, the best theological college in the world! I'm going to be so proud of my son!"
And he drifted off into telling Mr Ford all about his family, his church and his job. But Mr Ford hardly heard. His eyes were fixed on Kitty alone, his ears on the quiet whispering of the calm waves beneath the stormy surface up above.
Yet Kitty, it seemed, wasn't all too happy about that.
"Welcome to the Republic of Taiwan!" proclaimed tall, gaudily coloured banners hanging all over the large port where the submarine surfaced.
Kitty hadn't expected to arrive home in this fashion, with half the presents she had brought from England for her friends lying at the bottom of the sea, stumbling out of an emergency submarine with wet shoes and no book to read on the taxi ride home.
"Cheer up! You have lots of books at home, girl!" her father exclaimed, cheerfully pinching her cheek. He was already much happier since arriving in the country he had called home for more than half his life.
In a way, Kitty was also happy to be back. She had missed the re nau(1) of the Taipei streets, the traffic jams, the betel-nut-chewing grandfathers and the little old grannies with their automatic shopping carts which they trundled after them, sometimes pressing a button to let them turn into robot dogs if they weren't too full of fresh vegetables and pig organs from the ever-popular wet market.
"Let's buy some chou doufu (2) for a treat, shall we?" her father suggested, heading towards a street kitchen from which a heavy stench wafted in thick, smelly clouds. Her father was a very unusual foreigner – usually westerners avoided the stinking fermented tofu, a dish that was still famous and much-loved although the oil-crusted stoves it was cooked on were now solar-powered and had extra arms to stir the sauce and add in ingredients by themselves, as well as being able to take orders and detect fake money.
Incense and smoke rose from in front of small family-owned businesses: it was bai-bai day, the day of sacrificing to the spirits. Small tables covered in round fruits – mostly mandarin oranges and pineapples –, drinks boxes, instant food powder and edible plates and cutlery stood outside of almost every shop, the shop owners and workers burning paper money just beside them. Old traditions were mixed with new, modern inventions: one shop even had a robot throwing the spirit money into the fire.
Yes, Kitty was glad to be back. England had been too quiet, too different, the people too Western and too stiff. No one in England spat onto the sidewalks with as much gusto as the old veteran taxi drivers waiting for customers, or loaded small motor-scooters with as many little children as the young Taiwanese couples did. Even though the scooters now did laundry and baby-sitting as well as being the best and most beloved vehicles on the island, they still looked almost the same as when Kitty was still small and being driven to kindergarten by her father.
She had missed reading Chinese characters, as well as passing the tall, brightly coloured advertisements on the sides of tall buildings: "Aqua Bon: Your most trustworthy water-cleaning powder! Removes all heavy metals, kills bacteria, and gives your water a great taste of your choice! Buy it! Now!" – "Xiao Dongxi: your new most trusted robot! He does your chores! He is polite! He has an encouraging quote for every morning! He is always a friend in need: your Xiao Dongxi!
The only thing troubling Kitty was the presence of one other person in the country: Mr Ford. She could still feel his arms picking her up, holding her above the water, every time her mind drifted away from the city scene around her. She wished she could shudder at the thought. She wanted to shudder at the thought. Why didn't she, then? Why? Hadn't she sworn never to marry, never to even faintly love someone of the opposite sex, only minutes before he barged in so suddenly?
She should feel disgusted with herself. How dare she remember how handsome and strong he was? How dare she remember that he was actually brave enough to risk himself saving her?
She decided that she didn't like him, and told herself so, just so that there wouldn't be any confusion. He had made her lose a brand-new book – an expensive one, nonetheless, since books were now extremely rare! – and he had burst into her room without permission. Fine, this was the middle of the twenty-first century, men couldn't be expected to have as good manners as those in books. Nevertheless, she didn't want to remove the point from her list just because of that – as much as she wanted to deny it, she knew it would only make her doubt even more her decision of disliking him.
In any case, he was the owner of the Fordbots company, the greatest and richest robot supplier in the world. Meaning that more than half of Taiwan's lower class were poor because of him. If he wanted to be nice to her and befriend her – though she suspected she had seen far more than that type of idea in his eyes as he watched her during the tortuous submarine ride –, then he'd better give it up now, for she would never befriend the one who caused all the hardship she had to see and try to put to rights ever single sweaty day.
He was going to lead her astray, onto the path of evil, into breaking her promise – a promise she had made to God himself! And if she broke a promise to the one who had kept all of his, then what kind of thanks was that?
So why was a part of her sighing like a soppy, love-sick old napkin?
At last, her father returned, clutching two bian dan boxes (3) full of steaming – and stinking – chou doufu. "Oh, how I've missed this!" he exclaimed as he took out his chopsticks set – a special new invention which could be transformed into a pen, a comb, a torch or even a telephone at need. Kitty took her own box and opened it, staring at the pungent food. Where had her appetite gone? It had been swallowed up by the thoughts that even the strong smell couldn't hunt away.
Frustrated, Kitty closed her eyes. Father, help me in this! she prayed silently.
"Papa! The door!" Kitty called as the bell rang loudly, playing the whole 'Alleluia' chorus. Her father had decided that 'Happy Birthday' and 'Jingle Bells' were definitely not good enough ring tones for a missionary's door bell: he wanted real hymns.
"Yes!" the pastor called, banging a drawer in the kitchen. She heard the clanging of pots and pans, then the clatter of dishes. Then, "Kitty! Where did you put my other glasses? They were in the cutlery drawer last! Why did you clean up?"
Kitty rolled her eyes, laying aside her book. "Papa, you must become more organised!" she exclaimed, hurrying over to the kitchen as the 'Alleluia' chorus rang through the house a second time. "You can't lose everything every time I clean up!"
"I am organised!" her father whined. "Just… in a different way…" She reached to the top of the microwave to pick up the glasses, which she handed to him. "Thanks," he said, shoving them onto his nose. She had no idea why he still wore them; he always peered above the rims anyway.
Kitty sat down at the kitchen table and continued to read, listening with half an ear as her father left the kitchen and opened the front door. "Ni jiao shei (4)?" she heard him ask in Chinese. She didn't hear the reply. Then, "Harris?" he said in English. "Reverend Harris? I don't know anyone here called Harris… you must have the wrong address." She heard a click as the door closed. She felt a huge urge to giggle.
She heard the door being abruptly opened again. "Wait! Sorry! Stop!" She couldn't help smiling and closing her book for a while as she listened to her father making himself ridiculous once again. "I am Reverend Harris. Sorry. I forgot! I'm too used to my Chinese name, everyone just calls me Han Mu-Shr (5) here. Well, come on in!"
Who could her father be speaking English to, though? Kitty wondered. "Kitty, could you make some tea for our visitor?" her father called. "And get out some biscuits, will you; those from England!"
"Yes, Papa!" Kitty shouted back, laying aside her book and brushing away strands of hair from in front of her eyes. As she poured water into their ancient kettle – which dated back to the beginning of the century – she glanced into the living room. She immediately pulled her head back again. This can not be true! she thought. But when she looked again, it was.
"So, how do you like Taipei, Mr Ford?" her father was asking.
Kitty banged the kettle forcefully onto the ancient gas stove. How could her father just go ahead and fraternise with the enemy? He knew that she didn't want suitors coming by. She had told him as soon as she left school: after one disastrous boyfriend in her second high school year, she didn't want any relationships anymore. Apparently, her father had completely forgotten. Why else would he invite a man so close to her age into the house? She wanted to be a missionary in Africa, not a housewife with seven toddlers hanging on her skirt day and night!
"Father, if you can do anything to get him out of the house… please…" she muttered as she dumped the soggiest and most cockroach-eaten biscuits onto a plate.
As she carried the tray of tea and biscuits into the living room, she couldn't help but notice Mr Ford's gaze upon her. Her face suddenly felt warmer than it should be, even with the steam from the teacups. She quickly set down the tea, and was about to excuse herself and rush off to her room, where she could at least read in peace, when her father grabbed her by the hand, keeping her back.
"I was just telling Mr Ford about the social work you're doing at our church's community centre, Kitty! Why don't you talk to him about it a little?"
Kitty looked awkwardly at her feet, feeling like she was ten years old again and being introduced to the new boy in class. But this wasn't guo xiao (6) and he was definitely not a little-girl crush, so could she for once just stop thinking about it that way?
"She takes care of orphans and street children, as well as giving food to those who can't afford any because they can't find good enough work!" her father went on. "The introduction of all the new technology has brought Taiwan so many benefits, but most people can't even enjoy them because they're just too poor to afford anything." He shook his head. "But Kitty is doing a great job, teaching Sunday School, leading a day-care centre, handing out food to those who need it… She's just like her mother used to be!" He smiled up at her.
"And you speak Chinese?" Mr Ford asked. It took Kitty some time to realise that he was talking to her.
"Well, yes… my mother was Taiwanese," she replied. A part of her just wanted to run away and never look at his face again, never mind how handsome he was. Didn't her father notice any danger? No, of course he didn't. He thought he was being a perfect matchmaker subtly bringing together people who had been destined to belong to each other since the beginning of time. How subtle was it, when he kept trying to start a conversation between the two of them?
This is going to be the most tortuous hour of my life! Kitty thought miserably. I'll mark this day forever as a day of most terrible suffering!
Her father forced her to sit down and drink tea with them, while happily chatting on about how perfect his "dear little girl" was. She wished she could drown herself in the teapot. As she sat there, Kitty noticed the way Mr Ford was watching her, hardly taking his eyes away from her. Or maybe he wasn't; she hoped that he only happened to be looking at her at exactly the same time as she chanced to glance at him.
Whenever Mr Ford decided to ask her something, she tried to give as curt a reply as possible. She wanted him to know that he didn't have even the tiniest chance with her. As long as her mind worked the right way, she would always make her opinion on stinking rich spoilt snobs quite clear to him.
At last, Mr Ford had to leave and Kitty's father went to wave him off at the door. Kitty gathered together the dishes and hurried to the kitchen to wash up. After a while she heard a clatter in the biscuit box and knew that her father had come back in – he loved sweet things more than his health allowed.
"That was so nice of you," she commented sarcastically as he stepped beside the sink, munching more contentedly than he deserved.
"What? You're twenty-one, Kitty! You have to start somewhere!"
"Then I can start by myself! And what if I want to become a nun or something?" she dumped the wet cutlery onto the counter with a 'clang!', where an automatic dish-towel began rubbing it dry.
"I thought you'd changed your mind." Her father popped another biscuit into his mouth. Then he ruffled her hair and said, "He's a nice fellow, Kitty. Think about it." And he left.
Think about it, eh? That was exactly what she didn't want to do.
"Kitty! What is wrong with you today?" Mei Ling asked as Kitty spilled porridge over her lap for the fourth time that afternoon.
She was in the day-care section of the community centre, doing her usual Monday-afternoon duty of feeding one of the numerous orphans they took care of there. The room was filled with the hum and rattle of old air conditioners, the lullaby-singing of special robots designed to act as soft toys, milk bottles and music boxes at the same time, and the incomprehensible chatter of toddlers trying to speak. Most of the children were asleep, except for the little boy Kitty had been trying to feed for the past half hour, dropping more porridge onto her skirt than into his hungry mouth.
Kitty, hands trembling, replaced the bowl on the old, stained table beside her and grabbed a rag to clean herself up.
"No, Kits, that's the wrong one! It's programmed to clean dust, not porridge." Mei Ling quickly handed her the right one. "Honestly, you're becoming as absent-minded as your father lately! What's happened?"
Kitty took her time to answer, pretending to busy herself with a rather stubborn stain. Then, determinedly looking at the floor, she replied, "It's the worst of nightmares. You won't believe this, it's so horrible! I… have an admirer."
She hadn't expected her friend to react as she did: Mei Ling stared at her incredulously for a few seconds before saying, "But isn't that a good thing?"
"I made a vow just one week ago, Mei Ling," Kitty groaned, dumping the rag back onto the table while the orphan tugged at her hair. "Didn't I tell you about it?"
"There's more to life than living like a hermit and becoming a saint," Mei Ling said, tearing open a packet of Ah Ma's Instant Porridge Powder and dumping the contents into a bowl. "Anyway, having a husband would make life so much easier – especially for someone as absent-minded as you!"
"I don't want to have this discussion again," Kitty sighed as she tried to pry the little boy's pudgy fingers away from her hair. "I'd feel okay about marrying a pastor, a missionary or even a taxi driver, but I'm not going to break my promise for some businessman."
Mei Ling almost dropped the bowl of porridge she was mixing. "A businessman? What kind of business?"
"Robots," Kitty mumbled almost inaudibly. "He's the heir of the Fordbots Company."
This time, Mei Ling really dropped the bowl. It shattered into pieces on the floor, but she ignored it completely. "Kitty! Why ever avoid him? Don't you see the opportunities? If you marry him, the church will have enough money to care for all the jobless and homeless in Taiwan! Plus supporting all the missionaries re-evangelising Europe and America! God knows, you could do so much good with all the money that company owns! Do you realise it's the –"
"Leading robot company in the world. I know." Kitty rolled her eyes.
Mei Ling reached for a new packet, this time one labelled Instant Rice Bowl Powder. "Sorry," she said. "I shouldn't press you into anything. I'm sure he's a stuck-up snob like all the other wai guo ren (7), isn't he?"
"Oy! I'm half-Western too, you know!" Kitty cried in mock outrage.
"Don't change the subject! But tell me, what's he like, this Mr Ford?" She emphasised the name with a mischievous glitter of her black eyes.
"Tall. Brown hair. Green eyes. Strong. Too intelligent for his own good – what?" Mei Ling was giving her that same look she had always received from her school friends when they found out who her crushes were in high school. Kitty instantly turned red.
"You like him, don't you?" Mei Ling raised an eyebrow.
"No, I don't." But she could feel from the heat on her face that she must be as red as her favourite chilli sauce by now. She quickly turned back to feeding the toddler, who had started to restlessly kick his feet about, singing off-key Sunday School songs. "I've made a promise. I can't break it. Anyway, he's a villain. He must be here just to test me. I know, this is a test!" And she shoved a spoonful of porridge more forcefully into the orphan's mouth than she meant to.
"Don't murder the children because of your unwanted love life, Kitty," Mei Ling said, scooping the boy up in her arms. "And don't overfeed them either." She carried him over to his bed. Looking over her shoulder, he waved at Kitty with a pudgy little hand.
"But it is a test," Kitty exclaimed, getting up and following her. "To see if I can resist temptation and stick to my promise never to marry! All men are tests!"
"Wow, nice discovery," Mei Ling said sarcastically. "Try to tell my mother that, she's still trying to get me married off so I can be some evil mother-in-law's slave. Anyway, if all men are tests, then I'd have failed in primary school!"
"That's because you're a hopeless romantic."
"No! You're just too uptight about doing the right thing, Kitty! I'm serious!" Mei Ling looked straight at her friend, and Kitty could see the seriousness in her eyes. "You're obsessed with doing, doing, doing. You spend more time here at the community centre than anyone else! You give sweets to every little urchin running by your door! You hand out more money than you own! But you don't always have to do, Kitty. More important than doing the right thing and being scared all the time that you'll stumble off the right way is to ensure that one-way ticket to heaven by believing. Look at your heart, Kits. Not your hands." And she turned and hurried to the store room to fetch clean nappies.
Kitty, left alone in the middle of the room, surrounded by poor orphaned children, stared after her, then stared at her hands. Father, she said in the secret room of her mind, is my heart all right?
(1) re nau – crowded and noisy in a positive sense
(2) chou doufu – fermented tofu, a very smelly food
(3) bian dang box – lunch box, take-away box
(4) ni jiao shei? – who are you looking for?
(5) Mu-Shr – pastor
(6) guo xiao – elementary school
(7) wai guo ren – foreigner(s)