While waiting for a pair of VERY SLOW friends to get ready for a badminton game, I found myself in the ‘reception area’ of a block of flats near Wujiaochang. Every block of flats in Shanghai seems to have at least one (but up two three) people who hang around near the door almost 24/7, usually doing nothing.

在等一些超级慢的的朋友去打羽毛球的时候,我发现自己在五角场附近的一个社区的公寓的“签到处“。在上海的每个社区的公寓都能看到至少一个(也会有2-3个)人在门口附近24/7的晃悠,通常他们什么都不做。

The woman who ‘lives’ near the door of our flat is one of the most unfriendly people in the world. She never says hello, sits in the shadows and generally acts a bit like The Crow…

“住“在我们社区公寓门口的女人一定是这个世界上最不友好的。她从来都不说你好,只是坐在树荫下,好像在扮演“乌鸦“…

I was extremely suprised, therefore, when the two women in my friend’s block were very friendly! We chatted for a few minutes (Women: You’re tall! Me: Yes! Women: How tall? Me: 2 metres! Women: Really? Me: Yes! etc…) and then they told me they wanted to introduce me to a super-calligrapher, an 82 year old who was in the next room! Grabbing the opportunity, I went in…

我非常吃惊,因为2个女人在我的朋友的社区非常的友好!我们聊了一会(女人:你真高!:对!女人:多高?我:2米!女人:真的吗?:对!等等…)然后他们告诉我她们要介绍给我一个超级书法大师,一个82岁的老人就在隔壁的房间!抓住机会,我进去了…

welcome to shanghai calligraphy

…and he was busy drawing up some super-characters! I looked so scared…because I knew what was coming…he challenged me to a Pokemon-style calligraphy battle!

…他正在写一些超级汉字!我看起来很害怕…因为我知道会发生什么…他挑战我数码宝贝风格的书法大赛!

eagle eye shanghai calligraphy

…I scribbled away…emptying my vast knowledge of complex Chinese characters into the paper. I reckon it’s been about 12 years since I touched a paintbrush (1997 11DF QEHS Art class), so it felt a bit strange…

…我潦草地书写…我挖空心思地想复杂的中文字写在纸上。我意识到我有12年没有碰画笔了(1997年11DF QEHS美术班),所以我觉得有点怪怪的…

successful calligraphy

…but at least I made it to 12 characters!

…但是至少我写了12个汉字!

Shanghai calligraphy master continues

He went back to his desk, and began training for the next round: BIG CHARACTERS! He drew out his 4 biggest and best, and then turned over the brush to me…

他回到他的桌子,开始有一轮的练习:大汉字!他写了4个最大最好的,然后转过来把毛笔给我…

calligraphy battle shanghai round 2

…I was in the zone…

…我在那里…

calligraphy focus

My focus was so great that even the calligr-oupie couldn’t avert my gaze…

我集中了自己所有的注意力,就连和书法家睡觉的人都没有能引起我的注意…

shangahi calligraphy side by side

And here was the final result…I’m banking on the ‘untrained eye’ to not notice any of the mistakes in mine :)

这是最终结果…我打赌‘没有训练过的眼睛’一定注意不到我的字里的错误…

calligraphy letter writing competition

When we were done, the guy decided to write out a letter of recommendation for me to go and study in the School of Calligraphy in a Shaolin Temple somewhere on top of a mountain in the heart of China…

我们写好了以后,这个老人决定给我写一封推荐书让我可以去少林寺的书法学校学习,在中国中心的最高的山上…

calligraphy team shanghai photo

…unfortunately it was only valid for 10 seconds before (using secret Kung-Fu powder and magic) it self-destructed. The chance gone, I decided to say my goodbyes to the team, and head out to the badminton court. I do have his phone number though, so if anyone else wants to do a calligraphy battle against him in Shanghai, let me know!

…不幸的是有效期只有10秒,在它自毁以前(靠秘密功夫粉和魔法)。没机会了,我决定跟他们说再见然后去羽毛球馆了。不管怎样我有他的电话,不管谁想在上海挑战他的书法,联系我咯!

16 Comments


  1. one must learn the proper way to hold the brush when brush writing…

    but hey…at least ur better than a lot of chinese i know…u can be proud of yourself.


    • Haha thanks! You’re too kind. A lot of people mentioned that I used the ‘fat fingered laowai’ approach to brush holding. I like it!


  2. ah, my friend, this a funny post, I like it. :-)

    I give you a link regarding the #secret Kung-Fu powder and magic”.

    You can use it in computers in our 21st century http://lifehacker.com/5331359/vanish-gives-your-message-an-expiration-date


  3. Ha ha… We used to have to do Chinese calligraphy at school.
    We even had to do it for our ‘O’ Level Chinese in Malaysia…

    Great fun but I hate it!


  4. Ah excellent work Oli


  5. omg you’re so handsome *swoons*


  6. You got the skills to pay the bills. Did they let you take the sheets home to put up on the fridge?


  7. I like the photo where you learn supermans ray gun eyes technique


  8. 龍鳳呈祥
    These Chinese characters looks much more better than what you put on OPT form~


  9. having seen this post, i just can’t help leaving a comment. :p
    as a foreign friend, you do seem to have some talent there, i mean in terms of tradional chinese calligraphy~
    and it’s been 3 years since you wrote the blog. i doubt if you could notice this piece of comment.
    but i’ll comment anyway. :D


    • That’s very kind of you to say, Alfie! I have to admit my handwriting in English is pretty terrible, but I found Chinese fun to practice.

      I think if you saw some of my more ‘natural’ attempts at writing in Chinese you might not feel the same, however. My handwriting is definitely best on computer :)

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