I had nothing to give to my friend; she has everything. She said she admired my courage in choosing my own path so I took off my pendant and gave it to her. It is a Möbius ring made in silver and on it was inscribed:
This above all: to thine own self be true
君子不奪人所好 （a gentleman would not take another’s beloved);
She didn’t want to take it because it is something I treasured; I replied:
寶劍贈烈士， 紅粉贈佳人 （A sword for a warrior, Rouge for a lady)
In other words, it is a fitting gift. She accepted it and gave me her pendant, a miniature replica of a sculpture we had both admired.
Some people say that Chinese people talk in riddles and never come to the point. Not so; my friend and I knew exactly what was said. The reason we used literary references was that we both love the Chinese language and its literature, just as someone fluent in English may quote Shakespeare, or Wilde or GBS.
You don’t have to know your Shakespeare or to have read Hamlet to understand the quote on my Möbius ring, but someone with very basic English may have trouble with it. Therein lies the problem with communicating with the Chinese – few in the West are educated in the language above a basic level.