My talisman gives me strength

My talisman gives me strength

Pucca hangs out in my car and gives me strength.

tal·is·man noun
\ˈta-ləs-mən, -ləz-\

1: an object held to
act as a charm to
avert evil and bring
good fortune

2: something
that produces
apparently magical
or miraculous

True story:

A woman walks into a store. She’s the only customer there. The sales clerk sees her looking at a display case and glides over to join her.

Clerk: Good morning. May I help you?

Woman: Good morning. (Gestures at the trinkets in the case.) I like these.

Clerk: Very cute!

Woman: How much are they?

Clerk quotes a price.

Woman (hesitating): Oh, that’s quite expensive. Can you lower the price a little?

Clerk quotes a lower price.

Woman: That’s better, thank you. I’ll take it.

Clerk: This one’s a bit dirty. I’ll get you a new one.

Woman: You’re too kind.

(As the sales clerk wraps up the purchase, the two women chat about the weather and how the day is going for each of them. Package in hand, the shopper says a quick goodbye and heads back out to the street.)


Unremarkable, right? This kind of exchange happens every day; it’s barely worth discussing. But to me, this is a story about the triumph of the human spirit. Why? I can give you three reasons:

The store was in Beijing.

The conversation was held in Mandarin.

And the woman was me.

*       *       *

What I bought was a cheap keychain with a dangling cartoon character (Korean, I believe, although quite popular in China) named Pucca. I didn’t particularly want a keychain, but it was the first thing I saw when I entered the store — my excuse for interaction, a means to an end. Yet this little piece of metal and plastic worth its weight in gold to me. It’s evidence that I was able to do something outrageously out of my comfort zone, something I wouldn’t have believed possible just a year earlier: conduct a simple conversation with a stranger in Mandarin. (Even more amazing was that although I’m a bad haggler, I managed to get her knock a few fen (pennies) off the price. Do I rock, or what? :))

These days, Pucca hangs from the rear-view mirror of my car. She’s my talisman; she gives me strength. Whenever I’m struggling with something and getting discouraged, instead of telling myself I can’t do it, I look at Pucca.

And I remember.


About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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6 Responses to My talisman gives me strength

  1. Good on you! (Have to admit that I clicked on the advert video, thinking it was a piece of the post … thought you were remembering skinny dipping as a teenager!)

  2. Yes, you rock!
    I know that feeling and I too have a talisman, I just didn’t know that’s what it was called until now (thank you) Mine has been standing in my bedroom window (in three different countries) protecting me for years! There is actually an interesting story about how I found him, maybe I’ll blog about it one day 🙂

  3. Miss Footloose says:

    Maria, great little tale! And I know exactly what you mean. I’ve have been there in a variety of languages, and oh, it is so uncomfortable! What’s harder than speaking is understanding the answers 😉

    O buna ziua from Moldova (Have a nice day in Romanian, a whole lot simpler than Mandarin!)

    • Maria says:

      I know what you mean! The witty conversations I have in my head never seem to materialize when I’m talking to a real live person. For some reason, people don’t obligingly give me the answers I’ve so carefully scripted for them, but insist on coming up with their own!

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