A normal school day would be that Barbara and I would meet each other in the morning at tea time in 'the Batman', a smoky coffee bar at the CCAT. It was crowded and there was always someone we knew.
Sometimes on Tuesday I would find Barbara sleeping there, with her head on her arms, hanging on a table . She had been playing mahjong previous evening, this often went on till early in the morning. During the tea break we decided what we were going to do that day. Normally we go to the lessons after the tea-break and meet again in the canteen at lunch time.
During lunchtime we did something with sport. We played al lot of table tennis. Barbara taught me the Chinese grip. This grip I use still when I want to impress my opponent nowadays. We also played a lot of badminton. After the afternoon lessons we meet as a group again. Just hanging around or playing more sports. When it was time to go home for Barbara I escorted her to the bus station. I guess we had a healthy way of living. A lot of sport, we didn't smoke or drink alcohol and ate normal food.
At the CCAT a lot of different nationalities followed studies. I can't remember that there was ever any problems between them. In my class there were a few Arabs and we socialized with them. They had more money than the other students. They were always friendly, well mannered and neatly dressed, Barbara liked them. One time the lent us their traditional customs for a fancy dress party we went to. Barbara looked really lovely as an Arabian girl.
The Cantonese speaking students thought that it would be a good idea to start an Asian society. This society was very active. They organized parties always with fantastic food. They had cultural exchanges and organized sport events. Barbara was very active in this society. She designed a logo for the posters of this society. She had drawn a white dove. Only her design was turned down because the white dove was too much a symbol for the United States. Barbara found this a ridiculous reason.
Barbara's mother didn't object if Barbara went to the parties organized by the Asian society. Her mother assumed that al members were Chinese or Malaysian. I wasn't a member but I was invited for all the events they organized. Once the society organized an cultural exchange between the Asian CCAT students and the Asian Cambridge university students. The CCAT group made a traditional Chinese show. They all had much fun in preparing this show. Barbara and another Chinese girl sang a love song duet. I think Barbara sang the male part. That was the first time I heard Barbara sing.
My problem with Asian society was that everybody spoke Cantonese. I never mastered that language. I still have the book Cantonese for beginners, but I didn't get very far in it. In the beginning Barbara wrote down in note book the words I had to learn. But I didn't have the discipline. What also didn't help was that the Chinese guys had great fun in trying to learn me words which probably were not very nice. One word I still remember "soipow", I still don't know what it means, Barbara refused to tell me. But I was told never to use it.
The book from which Barbara tried to teach me Cantonese.
After we broke up I used the Cantonese I learned twice. Once to win a bet from a Chinese girl who thought I couldn't speak ten words of Cantonese. The second time was when the volleyball team I played in, wanted to annoy the referee. We played with Chinese numbers on our shirts. The regulations said that we had to play with numbers but it didn't say in which language.
Barbara waiting in the court yard of the CCAT
Barbara and I enjoying the food of one of the Asian society parties (1978)
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