third attempt at montreal

Offloaded the train at ten this morning, carried my backpack around old Montreal, gave it up as a torturous affair – and so headed to Chinatown and ate my beef brisket soup, etc. One thing about travelling alone as an ethnic chinese is that you develop a keen eye for ‘sun yat sen memorials’ on maps posted around town – even if they don’t explicitly indicate that that’s where chinatown is, you couldn’t possibly go wrong.

Afterward, was in the train station doing long overdue work, and got it on its way after three hours. But that left me with two hours to departure – so I headed to get a drink. Patrick’s pub along rue st-denis; funny how I always end up in establishments that claim to be scot or Irish.

Anyway, long story short – waitress there made me think about being Singaporean. She was clearly québécoise, but there was an inordinate number of English speakers at the pub. She did her job with admirable ease – but there was the occasional moment where she couldn’t understand the other person, at which both just, well, went over their conversation again.

So funny, then, that everything hinges on whether you can take a step back and accept that, as your  English is slightly less fluent than your French, its perfectly fine for you to demonstrate engagement but ask for elaboration. Who cares whether you are a server – why should that matter? The fact is that a person who takes offense at another person for asking him or her to have to respond in a language not of his or her choice, could check the ego and laugh it off.

That said – should it be in the case of being demanded to speak back in that language for reasons absolutely independent of the listener – that is a different case. That often smacks of the ego of the person who demands the audience. On the other hand, if it’s about understanding in a second language, and about your deficiency in that language – absent other reasons, why not just leave it? We are all better that way.

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