February 13, 2016
SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian man who woke from a coma speaking fluent Mandarin has found love on a Chinese dating show.
Ben McMahon was involved in a serious car accident in 2013 which left him in a coma for more than a week.
When he awoke, to the astonishment of his family, the Melbourne man started speaking in Mandarin.
Broadcaster SBS reported that McMahon had matched with a woman on the dating show "If You Are The One" after two episodes of the Chinese-language show featured contestants from Australia.
The programme sees male contestants attempt to win the hearts of 24 women, and the often frank assessments offered between the sexes have won the English-subtitled show popularity.
"I thought I'd put myself out there and find out if I was the one," McMahon told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday.
"It's a good insight into Chinese culture and just some of the crazy things that go on and the requirements for relationships," he said of the show which attracts up to 50 million viewers.
McMahon, one of 10 men and 16 women to travel from Australia to China to film the programme, learnt some Mandarin in high school and later travelled in China and studied in Beijing.
But he could not have anticipated that he would briefly lose the ability to speak English after his accident and that his internal monologue would be in Chinese.
"When I came out of that coma, the first words to come out of my mouth were in fluent Mandarin," he told the ABC.
He said the first person he saw was a nurse of Asian appearance and so he had said to her in Mandarin: "Hi, it really hurts here ... what happened to me?"
At that time, his thoughts and dreams were also in Mandarin, while his conversation left his parents wondering whether they needed to learn the Asian language.
McMahon met Sydney-based lawyer Feng Guo on the show, which is yet to air in Australia, and the pair have so far had only one date.
They will travel to the Maldives on holiday together next week for the free trip they won on the show.
McMahon said he wanted to use his language skills to forge better cultural communication between China, Australia and the rest of the world.
"In Chinese there is an idiom that goes along the line of, 'from a tragedy comes something great'," he said.