Friend: “One of my relatives owns a steel factory in Zhoushan. He earns so much money, he sells that stuff to companies abroad, but for his staff, it’s dangerous work. Sometimes one of his employees dies, they just give the family 200万 RMB and let them shut up. If they take the money, they cannot sue or anything. I remember one year, four employees died. He really knows how to do business though, started from nothing. His first factory was in Nantong, the government wanted him to move and gave him 800万, then the second factory he had the same, that time he got 2000万. His wife gave me my first computer, a laptop. But the next day she wanted it back because her husband needed it.”

Friend: “Never drink berry juice. It’s just no good.”
Me: “Ah, why?!”
Friend: “Last time I drank it, I lost my camera.”

A guy with his girlfriend walking outside:
He: “I’m one meter eighty tall!”
She: “No!! You’re one meter seventy-nine!”

~10-year-old Chinese girl: “My skateboard is so sexy”

(The sentence is spoken in Chinese, but the last word in English)

Me: “Do you know what sexy means?”
Her: “It means ‘cool’.”
Me: “Hmm, maybe go ask your mom.”

Being lectured by a Chinese kid. I told him my friend is getting a baby with her boyfriend: “Boyfriend?! That’s not possible!!! If you’re not married it’s not possible to have a baby!”

Another friend (writing on WeChat): “OMG yesterday I worked the whole day, after work I come home and look in the mirror, and I realize I’m still wearing my sleeping mask on my neck.”

Friend went to a dating event in Suzhou: “So I liked one guy and we added each other on WeChat. The first thing he wrote was ‘Do you have any nice female friends to recommend?’”

Seeing two former colleagues again for the first time in four months, two besties from Anhui: One of them: “You look good, healthy!” Second (half chewing noodles): “She means you look a bit fatter.” One: “Hm! Just a little bit!”

We’re talking about learning Mandarin among foreigners:
Friend A: “So… what is happiness?
Friend B (thinking very hard): “I think it is, … hmm, ….well…., how to say…”
Friend A: “Not philosophically! I mean what’s the Chinese word for it?”

Friend: “When my brother was born, there was still the rule that each family could only have one child. So my parents were fined 10.000 RMB, which was a lot of money in the early 90s! So in our village, even today, my brother’s nickname is 一万元 (“Ten thousand yuan”).

A Chinese kid telling me about her turtle:
“His Chinese and English names aren’t really the same. His English name is ‘Chanel’.”
“And his Chinese name?”
“王八蛋 (Bastard)!”
“Who thought of those names?”

Friend: “Long time ago I had a friend with a lot of beer that was about to expire, like a truck full, and another friend who worked in a KTV — so I helped sell the bottles. Like 0.5 RMB per bottle. Yeah, it had two months left on the label, but who’s going to see that in a KTV with a pretty girl opening the bottles for you. I bought my first car with that money and both my parents an iPhone.”

Friend: “I used to work at a store called JeansWest (真维斯) in Nanjing. I didn’t get any hourly pay, just a percentage of the clothes sold. So customers would ask: “Does this look good?”, I’d always reply “Yeah amazing!” But I always felt the clothes we sold were ugly.

Another friend: “When I was seven, my dad cheated on my mom and they divorced. If you see my childhood pictures, before the divorce I was super happy in every picture, after the divorce I look miserable, always. ”

Friend’s husband failed to get his driving license in Suzhou, so he went back to his hometown and gave the examinator 5000 RMB and a pack of cigarettes to pass, but he still cannot drive: “You know, the poorer a place you go, the easier it is to bribe people. An examinator in Shanghai or Suzhou wouldn’t dare take that money, afraid of being caught. But now he still cannot drive, he damaged both doors, I don’t even make enough money to repair that stuff.” She’s laughing but then becomes serious: “Every time he goes out driving, I do worry.”

During the summer holiday, a kid from a rich family in Shanghai has a private teacher and really likes her: “Dad, can she stay for dinner?”, “Dad, can she live here?”, “Dad, can I go to her place?” Each time after class, he grabs her hand and doesn’t want her to go.

Initially, all this seems cute, but then his grandmother tells her the kid’s dad often slaps him, afterward going downstairs to the pharmacy to get cream to ease the bruises: “I always tell him, don’t hit your child. His father also hit him, and now it passes on to the next generation. It is no good.”

The summer holiday is now almost over, and I feel so sorry for that little boy doing homework among the skyscrapers of Lujiazui.

Random guy in a busy area in Suzhou:
“Hey I can show you a parking lot, look, here.”

Me leaning out of the car window:
“But this says max 20 minutes, it’s not even your parking lot is it, this belongs to a bank.”

“Oh you just park, give me 10 RMB.”

Friend: “I had a boyfriend for three years…”
Another friend: “So handsome!”
Friend: “… but his parents didn’t want to help us buy a house so we didn’t marry. A few years later my dad got news from the doctor that he only had half a year to live, so I dated another guy, and we quickly married before my dad would pass away. He’s not ehm, so handsome.”

Other friend gives a slow nod in approval.

Friend: “We’re not really, well, it’s alright. Now that’s three years ago, my dad is still alive, thanks to very expensive medicine.”

Me: “Do you have regrets?”
Her: “No, so be it (就这样吧).”