Thursday, May 14, 2009


When I walked into my apartment last night, I was struck by how noticeably bare the wall opposite my front door was. Being a minimalist, this is quite a thing to notice. However, the scroll I've long displayed as my one claim to Chinese decoration had fallen off the wall, the adhesive becoming decidedly too old and weary to continue its job. I went to my junk drawer to find another adhesive hook to replace the old one when it hit me that I'm leaving next month. Why waste a hook? So instead of returning my scroll to its glorified position as the only piece of wall art in my apartment, I rolled it up and placed it among the other gems I plan to take home. So now my sea-foam colored wall is not only bare but, because of the smoke-spread soot covering my walls from my Thanksgiving fire, is also sporting a faint black outline in the shape of a scroll.

Today I went shopping and bought toilet paper for the last time in China. (At least, it better be the last time or else I waste too much paper and should be held accountable for this.) It's strange when you start thinking this way - the last time I'll buy toilet paper (VINDA, baby), the last time I'll teach UNIT 7 and explain why you shouldn't call a person black if he/she simply has a tan, the last time I'll have a run-in with Badminton Nazi. It's really the small, routine activities that I'll miss the most I think. It was these activities that gave my life a semblance of normalcy while living in a world very different from the one I knew before. Shopping for toiletries tends to be a great equalizer among peoples. And while I appreciate those things that connect me to my western perspective of normalcy, I can't help but wonder in what ways that perspective has been affected by my three years here. A couple days ago I was riding the bus home and watching the driver methodically shifting and stopping and flipping a lever jetting out from the steering wheel. I watched her for a long time, memorizing her movements, trying to get a feel for the shifting and wondering if she could do it in a less abrasive way. I was thrown off most, however, by her constant flipping back and forth of the lever. It took me four bus stops to realize that the lever was her blinker which she faithfully switched left or right as she weaved between lanes. How is it possible I've forgotten the purpose of the very mechanism whose use has single-handedly prevented fender benders and whose absence has escalated countless road rage encounters back home in the States?

Last Saturday morning students from several different departments participated in the "Interesting Sports Meeting." As I had a very important date with the dentist that morning, I could only watch two of the competitions. The first competition was a four man relay race in which the first man had to weave through traffic cones, the second man had to roll a basketball
a quarter of the way around the track with a baton, the third man had to potato sack jump all the way to the fourth man who finished the relay by running hurdles. It was entertaining. The second event was an eleven legged race - ten people tied together running in unison. Some of the groups were pretty impressive and could probably outrun me and my measly two legs easily. Aside from these two activities, the others included a jump rope competition, a hula hoop race and a Chinese version of pin the tail on the donkey using a blind-folded, dizzy student, a gong and a stick. One of my students told me, after my inquiry, that these games were "mostly for fun, but were a little important." I wonder how far bragging rights go for being able to hit a gong blind-folded.

It's raining a lot these days. We hoped to go camping this weekend, but it looks like we'll be rained out for a third time. I don't remember it raining so much my last two years. My students keep telling me the climate change is the result of global warming. I don't have much to respond with to most of the things my students tell me anymore. They also tell me drinking water after eating is bad for my health. I love China, I really do.

1 comment:

Harmony said...

Ha ha..."buying toiletries is the great equalizer!" That was awesome, much appreciated. I also laughed because I was thinking the same thing the other day when I bought my Vinda!! Ha ha.
Still thinking of swinging by HK?