Hong Kong Tales: Embarrased at lunch

For the past couple of days two of our big bosses are in Hong Kong visiting and attending meetings and such. Being the nice guys that they are, they invited the entire office out to lunch at a fancy / expensive dim sum restaurant yesterday at City Hall. We had two huge tables full of people. We ordered dim sum from the ladies pushing the funny little trolleys around and they would hand us baskets of yummy goodness. It was fun and the food was really good. OK, so that’s the location.

Now for the setup. A week or so ago, a friend and co-worker showed me a pair of tiny red shoes with funny stitched tiger faces on the toes and little whiskers that stuck out. She said that they were called “tiger shoes” and she had a friend send her the pair from the mainland. She told me it was very traditional and nice to get a baby a pair of tiger shoes. They were cute but odd looking. So the other day I pass by a store that seemingly has two names (Goods of Desire and Delay No More are both displayed in huge letters) and carries lots of odd clothes and accessories. I notice in their display window that they have adult size tiger shoes. How cool is that? And then I forgot about it.

OK so back to lunch yesterday where I’m sitting with about 12 + other people at the table and I remember the adult sized tiger shoes. So I said to my co-worker “Hey, you remember those little tiger shoes you showed me?”

“Of course” she said.

“Well I saw a pair of adult size tiger shoes at Delay No More by our office.”

And instead of the reaction I was expecting, I got the following:

“Don’t say that! That is not the name of the store! It’s G.O.D.” she said. (G.O.D. of course is also displayed since it’s short for Goods of Desire.)

And then the rest of the table started laughing hysterically and covering their mouths.

I’m usually pretty good at understanding when I’ve made a cultural mistake but this time I was totally lost. I had no idea why it was so funny that I got the name of the store wrong or why it was so important that I get it right. So I tried to play it off.

“Oh, well it says both Goods of Desire on the building along with Delay No More, and I thought it was just two different stores.” I said.

This was followed by more laughing at me and my co-workers telling me again not to say that and to call it G.O.D. By this time I knew my face was red, because I obviously was doing something wrong and I had no idea what. I don’t think I get embarrased too easily but this time I certainly was. Especially since the big bosses were at the same table and seeing all this.

I was a little put off at being embarrased for what I thought was no reason and so I just said, “Well they had them, whatever the place is called.” Then I left it at that. It wasn’t till the way back to the office that I learned what happened and why it was a good thing that the bosses didn’t speak Cantonese.

So in the taxi on the way back I was told that the reason people were laughing is because Delay No More is a slogan the company made up to screw with gwai-lou (white people). If you say it fast, it sounds like a really bad phrase in Cantonese. So basically this store’s schtick is making fun of foreigners or at least making them look like idiots.

So for those of you who don’t speak Cantonese, here’s how it works out. Delay No More sounds like “dee lay naw moa” which in Cantonese means “I fucked your mother.”

Now remember that I was sitting at a huge table filled with local Cantonese speakers. I had local Cantonese speaking waiters, waitresses and cart-pushers all around me and the table was in close proximity to other large tables filled with locals. And I’m sitting there saying “I fucked your mother” loud enough to be heard over the dull roar of a large restaurant filled with loud locals.

Oh… so that’s why everyone was laughing. Stupid gwai-lou.

*sigh*

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9 Responses to “Hong Kong Tales: Embarrased at lunch”

  1. insomnic says:

    I’m sorry you were embarrassed… but that is an awesome story to have in your pocket for the future. It’s one of those anecdotal stories that can be told when you are back in the states and people want to hear about your time there.

  2. yoshi says:

    I know you’re not alone in embarrassing stories that foreigners do. I know Jeff has many stories himself. :D This one will be classic I think.

  3. jerine says:

    i havent been using blogmad for months, cant believe its still working

  4. angerisagift says:

    Best laugh I have had in a while. Thanks!

  5. tiggerprr says:

    You made me literally LOL! It kind of made me think of Eddie Izzard, “You f-ed my wife!?” “I f-ed your mother!” teeheehee

  6. rev_matt_y says:

    Priceless, absolutely priceless! I particularly like that they put a phrase up there JUST to screw with westerners. Makes me wonder about all the other bizarre phrases I saw on signs while I was there…

  7. cybrpunk says:

    I understand that the same store has some other oddities as well, but I haven’t found what they are yet….

  8. Huanger says:

    The phrase “delay no more” had been used as a joke long before G.O.D. adopted it… As opposed to making fun of foreigners, it was used as a humorous way of saying the bad phrase without saying it.

    If you think about it, they sell way too much merchandise with this tagline for the foreigner customers to not quickly figure out what it means before buying it. It may have a side effect of foreigners embarrassing themselves PRIOR to their becoming a customer, but most people will figure it out sooner or later once they start shopping there.

    This article talks a bit about it as well: http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20060916_1.htm

  9. […] The name of this shoppe is Goods of Desire (GOD), but clearly you will see “Delay No More” written in larger letters above the store name in the picture below. This is a huge cultural joke in Hong Kong, as my cybrhub discovered the hard way at a luncheon in a restaurant filled with locals who all get the joke which he explains here. […]

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