21 October 2006

Getting Pulled Over (among other stories)

This past week was a very normal week with school as usual, but it seems that I'm always able to find something exciting to report on. Let me first give an update on the huge construction project around the corner. I'm still not sure what it is going to be, but I must reiterate that it is big. Given our neighborhood and the project's proximity to us, it is most likely more housing, but I'm not sure about that. Here's a picture from today:

Nothing too exciting, same brick pile, but on the left is one of the many canals that run through Wuxi.

Friday's bike ride home was extraordinary in its eventfulness. As we were waiting for the first light at the intersection near school, we looked over our shoulders to see a man squatting to do his business on the side of the road. I think I've gotten used to the children and their split-bottom pants doing their business in corners and over trash cans, but grown men...
Karri 's second posting from Saturday is a funny take on these same events: http://www.xanga.com/karri. While I'm on the topic of other Wuxi teacher's blogs, Lindsey's MySpace has some quality postings on our activities at school: http://www.myspace.com/danalindsey

So back to our Friday bike ride, we turn at that light and go another 100 yards, only to have a cop drive past us and signal for us to pull over. I have never been pulled over in the States, so I found it pretty funny that the first time I get pulled over is in China, on my bike nonetheless. We start freaking out because, um, we don't speak Chinese and it's the police. Through gestures, the policeman tells us that we shouldn't have our bags in our back baskets because people could yank them out. It was very kind of him to be watching out for us. After a slight reprimand, we continued on our way. Because it was Friday afternoon, we stopped by the local bakery for a celebration snack. The most exciting thing ever: We found the Chinese equivalent to a Swiss cake roll at the bakery down the street. It is amazing!! Look who else I found outside the bakery.

How adorable is this little girl?!?

She and her grandmother were all smiles--the beauty of digital photography was that I showed them the pictures right after. I love how smiles transcend language barriers!

Last weekend my air conditioner decided that it wouldn't work anymore. I know many places in the States have had snow and autumn-esque weather, but here in Wuxi, we're still sitting pretty with temperatures in mid 20's Celsius, which is high 70's and low 80's in Fahrenheit. On Monday, the repairmen came over and spent an hour trying to figure it out. At one point, they even put a liquid refrigerant into the outside box of the unit. They thought it worked because cool air was blowing out, but the next day I was pretty convinced that it wasn't working. On Wednesday, we went through the same song and dance. First, the normal repair guy and a representative from our school came up. They poked around for a bit and then called another guy. During this time, another guy from our school came. At one point, three of them were looking at my pictures on the wall and one was working. It was classic. And I just sat on my bed and tried to mind my own business. They got down to business by rewiring the unit, complete with some blow-torch instrument. The result: My air conditioning works, but my wall is permanently charred:

The air conditioner, the TV, and part of my porch.

The two black circles are the charred wall.

A different angle, same burnt plaster.

After getting my air conditioning fixed, we went downtown for a mid-week adventure. Megan got her haircut and I got a new keyboard. I met the girls downtown because I was waiting for the repair guys to leave which meant that I rode the bus by myself. We usually go together and just talk, so I brought a magazine to read to pass the twenty-or-so minutes that it takes to get downtown. The guy in front of me became quite interested in me but once again the language barrier was a roadblock. He had a friend text him the English sentence, "Where are you from?" and I was able to answer in Chinese that I'm from America. That was the extent of our conversation. But just as he was about to get off, he motioned for a pen, so I dug a pen out of my purse, and he proceeded to write down his cell phone number for me in my Newsweek. Another first--I can't say I ever remember having a guy give me his number :)

I hope he's not expecting me to call.

Tragic news for the month: The Orange Restaurant is closing for the next few weeks. The Bank of China is doing a massive renovation and somehow the restaurant is being forced to close while they work on the roof. On any given week, we consume at least two, maybe three meals at this restaurant, so this sudden development is quite upsetting. Megan and I decided to go for a bike ride last night in search of another option for dinner, and here is what we found:

"Change residence Yangtze River toward the new area, Green island build nest" Huh?

"Landmark of life, Doorway of newzone" Uh, ok

Not really sure how "the quality life satisfies diverse choice"

My personal favorite--the mother biting her child's chin while he munches on her nose. Oh wait, I think they're supposed to be nuzzling each other or something--it's not terribly clear. These are all the ads in front of another housing project down the road a bit.

The biggest rice cookers I've ever seen.

On a whim, we ordered some beer and got two huge bottles. I forgot for a moment how much I hate beer.

To give some comparison--my ever-present Nalgene and "Snow."

Now for the random thoughts segment:
  • A Chinese woman preached the sermon at Fellowship today--I must say it made me very happy to hear a woman in the pulpit.
  • We had a German family come look at our school this week--I am continually amazed at how useful German is here, I think I've said that before, but it's worth reiterating.
  • I'm reading a great book right now--Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. I read the abridged version in middle school and most summers after that, but I found the unabridged version of it in Beijing, all 850-some pages of it, and oh my word, I'm half-way through it--LOVE IT! That's all I have to say. Maybe I'll give a full report when I finish.
  • On the topic of finished books, I tried to pace myself through Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas. Some of my favorite quotes: "Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff...It doesn't excuse my mistakes, by I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity" (p. 204) "Joy, on the other hand, is not up for sale. And my joy comes from a completely different place" (p. 311) Wow, that's powerful stuff, eh?
  • We heard "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" at Friday's on Friday night--it was so good to hear U2 in China, even if it was at an American restaurant.
Well, this week is midterms, so perhaps I should finish making my tests. Hard to believe we're already a quarter done with the school year. Yikes, I guess the saying is true, "Time flies when you're having fun." I do like it here and I hope that comes across in my ramblings!

Love and Peace,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so, who gave you that sweet magazine to pick up some random chinese guy?? thats right...well, i hope you are doing well!! love ya