Ashley / Expat life

Our Ayi is Saving the World

one plastic bag at a time…

Here in China many expatriate households have employed an “ayi” or a maid. Pronounced “eye-eee” in Mandarin the word means “Auntie” (which is similar to the affectionate Hong Kong term “amah”).

Our ayi, Xiao Luo, rocks. Greeting me with an “Ni hao Ai-shi-lee” when I walk through the door she scrubs our floors, irons our shirts and keeps our house in working order. It’s the kind of thing that you get used to living abroad and shudder at the thought of giving up when you finally repatriate.

Xiao Luo is often pretty confused by our crazy Western ways. This afternoon I came home to her ironing Phil’s Halloween costume from last year, a street sweeper’s uniform. She asked me, perplexed, why we owned one and I quickly looked up the word “costume” in our Chinese-English dictionary. Through my laughter I told her there was no need to iron that, it could stay wrinkly.

She also doesn’t get why we go for the organic co-op mentioned in our last post. Why would we pay so much for vegtables that have holes from where bugs chew through the leaves (because of the lack of pesticide…but I don’t know how to say that in Chinese…yet)? It was hard not to laugh as she gave the very sweet organic farmer a hell of a time when we first set up the delivery, yelling at him that he was charging too much for poor quality food. She’s not going to let her foreigners get ripped off!

The above picture is of Xiao Luo’s efforts to help us recycle our ziplocs. While its an uncanny system, it works!


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