Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Chinese Whispers

As kids, most of us have played a variation of this childhood game called Chinese Whispers. Starting with a whispered phrase, the rumour is passed on with cumulative errors till the last unfortunate announces the misquoted on-dit to the rest.

Though most of us have far more politically correct terms for Chinese Whispers. Ostensibly named for the historical fact that the garbled chatter of the Chinese with their various tonal dialects confused the hell out of the largely European explorers back in the seafaring age.

Of course the game gets blown out of proportion when the players aren't informed of the rules.

Waitaminute, aren't we here for a funeral?

Bored silly at home - and recovering from a cataract surgery that has curtailed her obsessive reading habits, my grandmother has taken to calling up her numerous relatives according to an alphabetical list. Unfortunately she calls home at ill-timed moments only to have my maid Dorota answer. Ever heard a sing-song Chinawoman speak to a Javanese maid? Chicken and duck talk, I swear.

Grandma : Hello!
Dorota : Siapa?
Grandma : Where is everyone? How inconvenient to have everyone out! I shall have to try their offices next.
Dorota : Father go out to get cut. Cut. Cut.
Grandma : Good gracious!

Unsurprisingly a brief conversation. Yet from the lil bit of information gleaned, my grandmother immediately leapt to the erroneous conclusion that my father had somehow undergone an operation. Note the emphasis on the word cut. So she sent out an emergency distress signal. Hence I was suddenly deluged with thousands of messages from my uncles, aunts and cousins regarding the doubtful state of my father's health.

With technology so advanced these days - and my octogenarian granny a budding technophile, even my brother far away in the Middle East received the smoke signals.

By the time I read the news, it had been so blown out of proportion that I half imagined my father lying ashen on his deathbed awaiting our return. Which irritated me somewhat since he ( or my mother ) should do me the courtesy of at least informing me before abruptly shuffling off this mortal coil.

Irrational, I know.

Paul : Good God. Answer the damned phone already. Are you dead? Should I go dryclean my black suit?
Dad : Why would I be dead?
Paul : Aren't you being cut up? Everyone assumes that you're hooked up to drips for emergency surgery.
Dad : Wow.
Paul : Go call grandma. She must be burning paper money for the wake by now.

Back in reality my obviously hale and hearty dad - totally oblivious to the fact that everyone in the family had gone crazy ballistic - had actually gone out for a haircut.

Without his cellphone.

Now you know why they call them Chinese Whispers.


pojaya said...

Great story! Love it.

cYiD said...

omg... so hilarious...
cut cut cut!
what a stir up that lil conversation caused u guys!

the happy go lucky one said...

i tot im the more drama one :p but it only showed the strong family bond n love u guys have in the family :)

Alex said...

ROTFLOL!!!!! This is so funny!
Your dad must be laughing how it turned out!

Ryan said...

Wakaka... CUT! CUT! CUT!

Anonymous said...

Potong saga episode?
Always give both the maid and grandma a 50/50 chance of

Chris said...

hehe.... chinese style ma..

Janvier said...

Sure must have liven up your day when that happened!

savante said...

And it really happened, pojaya :)

I know! Can't believe that something so silly could happen, cYiD.

Certainly gave us something to talk about in the family newsletter, happy.

He was certainly laughing about it, alex :)

Obviously she hasn't quite mastered the language yet, ryan.

They'd probably end up squabbling, anon.

That's true, chris!

Felt like strangling the lot. Had more than ten messages on my phone, janvier.