ANN CROTTY: My trip to Wuhan
Whether in politics or business, excess deference can be destructive
Now that I think about it, it could have been pangolin. I certainly hadn’t intended to order pangolin; I actually had no idea what I’d ordered. When the waiter asked what I wanted, I pointed at a picture on the menu of something I didn’t really recognise. When the food arrived, I still didn’t recognise it. I tasted it and still didn’t recognise it. But after one very tough, very chewy mouthful I asked for the bill, and as politely as possible headed off.
This is what happens when you can only manage a few greetings in the local language and you’re in the middle of Wuhan where almost nobody speaks English, much as in the middle of Cape Town hardly anyone speaks Mandarin. The people at the next table in the restaurant had tried their hardest to help.