More Agile in Language Skills


1 05, 2007 03:23

Happy New Year!

There is only one month left before departure. The yoga lessons have continued, with a four-day break over the year’s end. I just went back to my first lesson today, only to discover that my body had re-set its stiffness. I am now back at where I first began. I must have performed over a dozen “dog poses” during the last lesson. I just hope that this starts to sink into deeper levels.

The Mandarin Chinese lessons are progressing at a more satisfactory pace. I have amazed my native Chinese teacher with my ability to absorb Mandarin. She commented that we already covered “a year’s worth” of Chinese, in just five weeks.

If I have an inherent head-start for Chinese, which I do not have for yoga, it might relate to the fact that I have put an effort into balancing Japanese and English inside my mind, for the good part of my life. These two languages are very different in syntax, grammar and nuance. Balancing them requires a determined effort. Thanks to my perseverance, I may have developed a kind of inner flexibility, which permits rapid absorption of new words and pronunciations. Knowing how to write thousands of Chinese characters in Japanese format also give me a boost, because Chinese script is often an abbreviation of its Japanese counterpart.

So in Chinese class, I am not only doing cool “dog poses”, I am doing head stands. The purpose of this entire venture, of course, is to harmonize these disparate “yin” and “yang” elements.

A favorite dish following the heels of yoga lessons has been sushi, which is available on belt-conveyor servings in sushi shops. The raw fish offers quick energy charge, and also cools down the body. My favorites are tuna and sea urchin. Tuna is great and can be had in many forms; but it may become more scarce over the coming months, because sea stocks have been rapidly declining.