Last week while I was in Changchun, I went to the Chinese teachers office at Northeast Normal University to see if I could find a former teacher who I know is still teaching there (she teaches some of my friends there now). Things have changed a lot since I was there, and I didn't know anyone in the office. The conversation with the office worker went like this:
Me: I'm looking for Teacher Y Do you know where I can find her?
She: Which Teacher Y? Do you know here given name?
Me: I'm sorry, but I can't remember her given name.
She: Would she be the older one or the younger one.
Now this question stopped me dead in my tracks because I don't remember ever thinking of Teacher Y as being old. Then it slowly dawned on me just how long ago it was that I had studied with her.
Me: Well, since I was her student 20 years ago, I'm guessing it must be the older Teacher Y.
When they said her full name I recognized it. They kindly gave me here phone number and I gave the older Teacher Y a call.
Later in the afternoon I met up with her and the former head of the Foreign Students Office (also named Teacher Y) for an afternoon of laughter remembering the 'good old days.' and realizing that all of us are now the older ones.