Old Stories

Blueberry Tart & MochaYesterday I met up with Julie for some coffee to get ourselves talking about creative projects. We went to Au Coquelette on Shattuck and Milvia in downtown Berkeley. There, I got their mocha and blueberry custard tart. Quite a delicious combination, since the coffee was bitter enough to balance the dessert. While we were chatting, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and saw a middle-aged man with glasses, and he politely asked us, “I was wondering if you ladies speak Chinese?” His voice was a bit shaky, nervous on approaching strangers I assumed, and I answered, “Yes, we do”. He promptly laid a book down on the table, a travel memoir written in simplified Chinese, and asked, “How do you read this character here?” After explaining to him, we began chatting with the man.

His name, if you rearrange it, spells Rice. That’s what he pointed out to us. We soon learned that he was eccentric and kind, cracking puns and jokes amidst recounting his life as an English teacher in China. Rice told us that when he was young, he had an accident to his head that left him unable to speak and move. Even now he has trouble with simple tasks such as writing or holding an object. What amazed me was that this man had gone through so much already, and with gusto; he learned Chinese (seriously held his own and half of our convo was in Mandarin), traveled the world and seemed genuinely happy with his life. Rice does hope to go back to China someday, though. It seems like even though he is half Hungarian and Russian, his heart lies in Asia. He reminded me of the character Carl from the Movie Up. It seems that this man has more adventures planned, and he’s certainly inspired me to create my own adventures while I’m still young.


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5 Responses to Old Stories

  1. Kien says:

    the people you meet have an odd way of inspiring you. or maybe they’re just odd in general. hahaha

  2. mei says:

    this is a very nice little encounter. meeting difference people like this does get me inspired. and u never know if you inspire them, too.

  3. anthonydesigns says:

    what a fun name for a cafe! can we please get some poutine at that one spot?

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