Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Things AKIC Did in September 2014

  • I had access to another person's We-Chat account and so I made some goofy postings to the Moments section: here We-Chaters can make postings for all their contacts to see. One I did caused a lot of reaction. Hoping for another Moments coup, I told the person to pose for a photo holding his nipples. I posted the photo and also wrote the following in Moments: What is the Sam Hill is going on with my nipples? They are tender and chaffed this morning. Alas, there was much reaction His girlfriend later deleted the post. She said it wasn't very professional.

  • There was a song played at the end of a Radio Free Delingpole podcast episode that was catchy and not familiar to me, and for the life of me, I couldn't find the song's name and artist. But I then used a Siri feature on Ios 8 which I had just downloaded. I re-downloaded the podcast episode onto my Ipod and then played it for Siri on My Ipad. Siri identified the song in about five seconds and I was able to download the song from Baidu.

  • I have realized that people take what is said on Social Apps very seriously. And I have a great idea for a movie. The promo goes like this: They didn't take social apps seriously and now they're paying the price....

  • I got Tony to do some homework. I then did some arithmetic problems with him. I ask him what twenty plus twenty is, he doesn't understand. I ask him what 二十几二十 is, he understands and says 四十。

  • I shot another commercial, that will be shown on the Wuxi Metro video screens, for my school. In it, I tell the pretty co-star that I am getting ready to do some backpacking next week, and then tell her how backpacking is an activity that is physically challenging, for which you should travel light, and wonderful for those on a budget (like me).

  • I have been earning extra dough doing video transcribing. I thought that in this day and age, that there was software that could do that for you. As it is, there is a demand for it and I feel like I have over-committed.

  • I bought the Happy Meal at McDonald's so I could get the Takara Plarail Train Toys for Tony.

  • I bought two of the same toy but didn't give them to Tony directly. I instead left them with his other toys so he could find them. The first toy he was happy to get. But the second toy brought on a strange reaction. He found this toy while I was at work. When I came home, Tony was upset with me. "I don't want this!" he said to me angrily. "I already have one!" I was surprised at his attitude, and chided him for his ingratitude.

  • I attended a reception at a Hotel located in the heart of Taihu New City (so said the hotel website) that was really far away from the downtown Wuxi. It was to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic in China. A bunch of foreigners, including the trainers at my school, attended. Most of the foreigners were businessmen wearing suits and ties. (I at least wore a tie with white shirt and black pants – the rest of my colleagues balked at the idea of dressing formal) I recognized only two of the foreigners but didn't talk to them. I felt intimidated by being with so many business types and couldn't escape this feeling of being frivolous English teaching riff-raff. The mayor of Wuxi made a speech thanking the foreigners for their support. Later, he came up to us and gave us a name card which I will keep as a souvenir.

  • After the reception, I returned home and stopped by my local mom and pop shop to buy some drinks. The female proprietor looked at Tony Baba (that be me), and asked why I was wearing a tie. Not knowing what Chinese to say, I showed her the card I got from the Mayor.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Things I was told in September 2014

  • A student told me that they had to write an exam on a Sunday evening. A Sunday Evening!!

  • A foreigner told me that he was accosted by a local woman on the street who told him he shouldn't be dating Japanese woman while he was with his girlfriend who was a local.

  • A student told me their favorite flavor of ice cream was rose. She insisted on this when I questioned the existence of rose flavored ice cream. She then denied that she meant strawberry.

  • A student told me that she had gone on an exchange trip to Denmark. I asked her if Danes struck her as being particularly happy, perhaps the happiest people on Earth. She told me that they liked to party till five in the morning and that she hadn't meet an unhappy one.

  • My wife told me that a man was arrested for peeing on a Wuxi Metro train.

  • Other students told me that parents letting their baby pee on the Wuxi Metro train had made the news.

  • We Chat silliness engaged in by me has my colleague being shunned by members of Wuxi's American Football team. Or so my colleague told me.

  • A young male student was upset because he learned that his school was going to have a sports day on October 1st. The day is supposed to be the first of a three day holiday for everyone.

  • A student told me her favorite movie was Roman Holiday. I have probably had a hundred students tell that this is their favorite movie.

  • The students told me that they had to go to work or attend school on the Sunday before the October holiday.

  • Someone keeps telling me and other people that he has broken up with his Chinese girlfriend, only to still be living with her the next day or week.

  • On the day that I heard about the riots in Hong Kong, I just so happened to have in class, a student who is going to go to Hong Kong to study. Talking to her more, I learned that she had spent a great deal of time in Hong Kong, even spending summer vacations there because her parents' Hong Kong flat. I asked her if she had heard about the riots. She told me she did and that she was surprised because she thought that the Chinese government was doing a good job of running the place and couldn't understand why the people in Hong Kong were so upset. I told her if I was in their shoes, I would do the same. Hong Kong, I told her, should be running China, not China running Hong Kong. She also told me that when she is in Hong Kong, she prefers to speak Cantonese because Mandarin speakers are looked down upon.

  • A student told me she will go to the M & Ms factory in Shanghai.

  • A student told me that she would never eat the street-made fried dough sticks, called youtiao by the locals, because she had heard that the vendors use soap when making them in order to enhance their golden brown appearance.

Things Seen In Wuxi, September 2014

Things I have saw in Wuxi in September, 2014:

  • A School Master with a loud hailer supervising rows upon rows of uniformed school children doing mass calisthenics on the school playground.

  • Hair salon workers standing in file, outside the salon, being spoken to (harangued by?) their manager.

  • Street cleaners wearing the hats I normally associate with Vietnamese rice paddy farmers.

  • A local man wearing a polo shirt so that was partially rolled up so as to expose his midriff.

  • A male holding onto to the forearm of his female companion in a caveman manner. Instead of holding onto her hand, he had grabbed onto her forearm in order, it seemed to me, to pull her about like she was a recalcitrant child.

  • A young woman wearing a t-shirt on which was printed the word "pervert."

  • Three security guards rolling a traffic cop's pedestal from the center of the intersection of Zhongshan and Xueqian roads at about nine in the morning. Despite the fact that the intersection has traffic control lights, the powers that be still see a need for a policeman to direct traffic during rush hours. Interestingly, the guards, when rolling the pedestal to a corner, weren't paying attention to traffic and vehicles had to swerve to avoid colliding with them.

  • Two young men together on a bicycle. They dressed in identical white dress shirts, black pants, and dress shoes. One was standing as he turned the pedals, with a look of exertion on his face, as the other sat on the basket clamp over the rear wheel.

  • An old man with a very distinctive scowl on his face getting off a Wuxi Metro train. He moved slowly and was one of the last passengers to get to the platform exit.

  • A man with shoulder-length white hair crossing at a pedestrian pathway on Zhongshan Road. He is too far away from me for I to be able to determine his nationality.

  • At the shuttle bus station that is by the Wuxi Metro Yanqiao Station, there are long rows of potted flower beds that have been erected seven feet above ground. One day while riding the bus, I saw about ten workers, wearing those Vietnamese style farmer hats, in a row planting flowers in these beds. To see them seven feet in the air, was seemingly to see them at a new and heightened perspective.

  • A man standing on a corner with a large turtle hanging from a hook. I assume he was showing it off because he wanted to sell it.

  • A very wide sign. It was wide because the title printed on it was very long. The sign was so wide I would have had to stand in the middle of the road to capture all its width with my pocket camera. Piecing the title together from the two photos I had to take to capture all the words: the sign says: National Center of Supervision and Inspection on Preoduct Quality of Overhead Gantry Crane Machinery: Equipment Safety Supervision Inspection Branch of Jiangsu Province. (the spelling mistake was on the sign!)

  • Eight people on the entire Wuxi Metro Train at 815 PM on a Monday.

  • Waiting for the shuttle bus that takes me to the Subway Station, an old man walked past and was looking at me, studying me closely; and so I stared back, looking him straight in the eye after having given him the once over. I detected the corner of a laughing smile on his face as he had passed by me.

  • While waiting for the shuttle bus to take me home from the subway station, I was Daydreaming and so the driver honked the horn at me to get me to board. I would have been her only passenger.

  • Taking the shuttle bus one morning, I saw, at an intersection, a driver perform a very quick left turn off a fresh green and thus cut in front of the bus I was on which was attempting to proceed straight through the intersection from the opposite direction. This wasn't worth blogging about. It was the driver behind the first left-turning car doing the same maneuver that was. The second left-turning car wasn't actually stopped at the intersection when the light turned green but was approaching it at full speed. The driver as well wanted to make a left turn and not wait for the bus to go through the intersection. So, making the left turn at a high rate of speed, the car missed hitting the shuttle bus I was on by a foot!

  • On the subway, there was a baby without diapers. I didn't pay much attention to the baby and its family, but I couldn't help but notice that when they got off at a station that there was a puddle where they had been sitting. Jenny confirmed my suspicions that the baby had taken a piss.

  • Taking the subway home on a Friday evening, I saw there were a lot more passengers than usual and I had people sitting next to me. I was reading, flipping through, you could say, books on my Ipad. I noticed a male sitting on my left, stare at the screen full or curiosity as to what I was looking at. A male on sitting on my seemed to have done the same thing, but then I heard and felt him thump his head against the side wall of the train. Why he was doing this was a mystery to me. I took a glance at him and he didn't appear to be mad.

  • On a Saturday morning, I was walking to a bus stop and saw a row of black cars with pink bows tied to the front outside mirrors. Someone in my apartment complex was getting married I thought.

  • Next day, I see the same fleet of cars parked on the road outside our apartment. Someone says something and the drivers got in the cars and headed off somewhere. Maybe someone isn't getting married from the apartment I thought.

  • I saw myself on Wuxi Metro television. As I walked in the station, I saw the video that had been taken of me and the redoubtable Edith, a study assistant at my school, doing a commercial spot for our school. And I was wearing the same green khaki colored shirt that I wore recording the commercial and so I felt sheepish.

  • Walking near a Primary School as the students are about to go home, I see a man walking down the street with no shirt on. I needed to put something in this blog and that is all I saw. Of course, he did stand out, especially to me because I was in the mindset that it was autumn.

  • I saw a foreign woman at a Wuxi City Hall reception wearing a nice formal dress. It was long and had a low back. From behind, I was surprised to see she had a huge tattoo. Is that what is cool in the West? I have been away over ten years now so what do I know? The last time I was there and living there, tattoos were the fashion.

  • At the same reception, I saw a Japanese man wearing a suit and white shoes.

  • I was walking back to Casa Kaulins because I was not willing to stand and wait twenty minutes for a bus. On the way, I saw many outstanding examples of bad parking. Several cars were parked a meter from the curb, some cars were at 45 degree angles to the curb, and one car was was parked perpendicular to the curve. Its driver was going into the space between two cars that weren't parked in the center of the lined spaces.

  • But what really got to me about the road I was walking down wasn't the bad parking, but the hideous ugliness of the scene. Cars and pavement and trash and crumbling buildings and gray sky.

  • On the last day of September, I was walking down a street towards the McDonalds on the corner of Zhongshan and Xueqian Road. The Number Two People's Hospital was across the street. In quick succession, I suddenly heard the screeching of a car coming to a quick stop, the sound of a collision, and a collective gasp of people seeing what was happening. I turned to my right to the cause of the sounds and the gasps, and saw that a taxi had hit an electric bike. The e-biker was a woman and she was knocked off her e-bike so that she was sitting on the pavement, one leg straight on the ground and the other bent under her buttock. The accident happened at a spot on the road that was combination pedestrian crossing and car turning spot – Zhongshan Road otherwise has barriers dividing the opposing lanes of traffic. I have often tried to cross the road at that point and it is a place with a high probability of accidents because pedestrians and e-bikes and cars come into conflict. They all ignore each other. (And to think, if I hadn't decided to go to McDonalds, I would have been crossing at the spot where the accident happened.)

Friday, October 3, 2014

September 2014 Thoughts and Observations

Thoughts and observations from September 2014:

  • For some extra money, I am listening to, watching, and typing out the words said in these lectures from a left wing and sort of religious organization, Sojourners they are called, at Georgetown University. If I wasn't being paid to do, I wouldn't. Be that as it may, it is interesting and good that I do listen to what the other side of me politically has to say. It seems to me that those lefties say a lot of things that are not true or at best half true, and they have no idea what it is that the right or conservatives really believe. I don't really feel that they challenge my views in the least.

  • I am a big fan of breakfast. I would wear a shirt with the words breakfast printed on them if such a thing was available.

  • I thought to check up on the standings in the Canadian Football League, and I was stunned. What I mean is, that for the CFL, which I hope will always be with us, the standings were an embarrassment. The league has a five team Western Division and a four team Eastern Division. Looking at the standings on their web site , the West division is usually at the top and the East Division is on the bottom. I first noticed, as I looked at the league site, that the last place team in the West division of the league had a 6 – 5 record, that is a winning record. A lot of losing teams in the East Division I thought, but I didn't expect to see what I was to see. Scrolling down to the East division, I saw that the first place team had a 3 – 7 record, that is three wins and seven losses, four games below .500! It was unfortunate that there were no sports fan in the office to whom I could show these standings.

  • I am reading The First Circle by Alexander S. Reading it on my Ipad, I highlighted the following passage: in that moment of weariness and self-satisfaction, the temptation is greatest to give up, not to strive for the peak of quality. Try as I might to make the writing in my blogging better by reading and rereading and rereading and editing a piece as many times as I can, I do experience that moment of weariness and self-satisfaction, and just say "fuck it" and press the publish button. I got to stop doing that.

  • I look at myself being nearly fifty years old. How old is the "I " that is looking at himself being fifty years old?

  • I had a student tell me that her favorite animal was a fish. She then told me her favorite food was fish. She liked eating her favorite animal. There is nobody I like enough to eat.

  • A local acquaintance of mine was asking what I thought about the Scottish independence question. I told him what I read David Warren said, which was that the English would be crazy to want to keep the Scots and that the Scots would be crazy to want to break away from the English. But why do they want to leave? the acquaintance asked. I said that they wanted their own country. Like the people in Quebec? He asked. Sort of, I said. And the acquaintance mentioned people from Jiangying, a district of Wuxi. Jiangying people, he said, say they are from Jiangying, not from Wuxi. All the while, Wuxi people who don't live in Jianggying district think Jiangying is part of Wuxi. There is local pride, of a sort, in China. (Jiangying or Jiangyin?)

  • The sensible part of me desires a No vote in the Scottish Referendum. The monster raving lunatic joker part of me desires a Yes vote.

  • I am the andis in outlandish.

  • I like Vincent Price movies. I have watched three this month and they are all just wonderful.

  • Here are some WeChat moments I would like to publish using other people's WeChat accounts: 1)Sunshine and Lollipops. Bubble Gum and Ice Cream. Happy, happy, happy, happy day! 2) I got drunk, went to a toy store with my niece, and bought four Barbie dolls. Am I a good uncle or what? 3) I think that ______ and I are better together! (WeChat is a mobile social app that I and many of my students use.)

  • This is not the only blogging I did for September. Expect more entries in the next few days.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tony & Dad Can't Hide Anything from Mom.

At 7:50 PM on a Monday evening, Tony told Dad, who was lying in bed reading a book, that he wanted to ride the subway. Dad reacted with exasperation because looking at the time, he saw that it was late. The subway ran till about 9:20 PM. Be that as it may, Dad decided to honor Tony's request because this was the only week night that he could get Tony out of the house. So he got dressed quickly and told Tony to do the same.

Dad ran to get the e-bike which he parked in an apartment basement where it was recharging, and then picked up Tony from the apartment. It took ten minutes for the two of them to get to the nearby Yanqiao Metro station. After parking the e-bike, they waited about six minutes on the platform for the Metro train. Instead of waiting to board the train at the rear, they walked all the way to the other end of the platform to board the train at the front.

The clock said 8:15 PM when they boarded the train that would take them to downtown Wuxi. And it was only then that they began to discuss where exactly they would go. Tony told Dad that he wanted to go to the Apple store in the Hen Long Plaza, but Dad told him that there wasn't enough time to do that. So, Tony instead asked to go to the Sanyang station and look at toys at the Parkson's department store. But they had done this the Monday before and Dad thought that it would be boring to go there again.

As they discussed the question of where to go, Dad noticed how very empty the train was. Dad counted eight people boarding the train at Yanqiao: less than the number of cars that the train was pulling. So Tony was able to run three car lengths and back on the train without passing anyone.

As the train got close to the downtown, Dad tried to convince Tony to go look instead at toys at the Far Eastern Department store which could be accessed from the Shenglimen Station which was one stop earlier on the line than Sanyang.

"You can see the wide selection of Ultraman toys there! It's the best in the city" Dad said. This argument convinced Tony who was in a phase of wanting to buy Ultraman toys.

They got off at Shenglimen and through a series of tunnels walked to the Far Eastern Department Store basement. Dad then had to convince Tony to take the elevator to get from the basement to the fifth floor toy department. (Usually, Tony was gung-ho to take an elevator) When the elevator door opened at the fifth floor, Tony saw the Toy department and sprinted excitedly to it.

Having convinced Tony two times in a row to do something, Dad patted himself on the back for his power of persuasion with his son. But he hadn't considered that Tony assumed that a toy was going to be purchased.

Tony began looking for a certain model of Ultraman figure. The number 22 model to be precise. He couldn't see it on the shelf and so he asked the clerk to find it for him. Dad, who was daydreaming and looking at all the idle clerks on the fifth floor waiting for their shifts to end, only noticed, when it was too late, that Tony had a clerk helping him. Dad felt embarrassed as he saw the clerk crouched down at the shelf looking through all the Ultraman figures as Tony stood beside her. Dad moaned to himself that it would be such a shame to not buy anything, considering that the clerk was acting on the possibility that there might be a sale. He didn't want to waste the poor woman's time.

The clerk found Ultraman Model 22 – it was in the back of the display shelf behind the other models – and handed it to Tony. Then to Dad's horror, Tony and the clerk walked over to the service desk and the clerk filled out an invoice form, for the toy, which Tony then handed over to Dad.

"I can't buy this!" Dad said. "Mom will kill us!"

So Dad, realizing that a firm "no!" to any toy purchases was an impossibility, tried to convince Tony to buy something cheaper. He first tried to get him to buy an Ultraman egg toy that was half the price of the Ultraman model 22, but Tony wasn't interested. He tried then to get Tony to buy a toy matchbox car which was one fifth the price of model 22 but Tony again wasn't interested.

But Dad persisted.

"Buy a toy car!"

"I don't want to buy a toy car!" Tony said.

"Buy the toy car! It's cheaper!"

"I don't want to buy a car!!"

Tony began to cry in an inconsolable manner.

Dad was whooped. He decided to buy the Ultraman Number 22 for Tony. He tried to quickly calculate how he would be able to pay for lunch while he was at work for the next week.

Dad was miffed as he pulled money out of his wallet and presented the invoice to the cashier. So he slapped Tony on the shoulder and told him two things. First, that this was to be the last toy he would get for Tony before Christmas (it was September). Second, that Tony & he would not tell Mom about this. They would not say a thing. Mum's the word and all that.

They walked back with a receipt to pick up the toy and Dad looked at his watch and saw it was 8:55: time to catch the train back home. So Tony and Dad took the elevator to the basement and walked to the Shenglimen train station. All the while, Dad harped about how they mustn't tell Mom and that this was to be the absolutely last toy Tony would get before Christmas.

As they waited at the Shenglimen platform, Dad removed the Ultraman Number 22 from its package and threw the package into a trash receptacle in order to hide any evidence of a toy purchase being made. Tony, who liked to keep the toy packages, reluctantly went along with the disposal.

At 9:10 PM, they boarded the train headed to Yanqiao.. For the entire ride, Dad told Tony that this was the last toy he was going to get before Christmas, and they would have to hide the fact of the toy purchase from Mom.

The train arrived at the Yanqiao station at 9:30 PM and Dad & Tony took the e-bike back home. As Dad rode the family e-bike back home, he kept telling Tony to not tell Mom about the toy and that they would maybe hide it from Mom by putting it in Dad's bag for a day or so.

As they were on the e-bike, they got a phone call from Mom who said that she had locked the door to the apartment because she was about to take a shower. This was fortuitous, thought Dad because it meant that they could more easily get into the apartment without Mom noticing the toy.

They then arrived back at the apartment complex and Dad parked the bike and continued to pester Tony about the toy. He took the Ultraman Number 22 from Tony and hid it in the big and deep front pocket of his Jeans. He ended the talk and the warning and the proclamations to Tony as they got to the apartment building entrance.

It is a three flight walk from the Apartment building entrance to Dad, Mom and Tony's apartment. Ascending the stairs, Dad pulled the apartment key from his pocket in order to open the door that he had assumed was locked. But he discovered the door was open and that Mom hadn't gotten into the shower yet, and was at the bathroom sink washing her face.

Dad crept into the living room and decided on a stratagem of putting the Ultraman Number 22 in a pile with all the other Ultraman figures and Ultraman eggs that Tony already had. Tony, for his part, played with toy cars instead of playing with the new toy.

The ruse seemed to be working. Mom was silently sitting in the bathroom. But Dad was feeling sheepish and in the back of his mind, a voice said that he wasn't going to be able to pull the wool over Mom's eyes.

Still, for five minutes, he thought that was a chance that they could get away with it.

Mom continued to sit calmly in the bathroom, playing on her Iphone.

Dad took a rest on the bed.

Mom, all of a sudden, asked if the boys if they had bought toys. She wondered, she said, because she had heard the two of them arguing as they came into the apartment building. Dad, not wanting to say yes to Mom's query, said nothing. It was Tony who spilled the beans, telling Mom about the toy he had gotten.

Tony and Dad had done themselves in by thinking that Mom was in the shower.

"Tony! I hate you!" exclaimed Dad.

Mom had strong words for both of them.

Dad in turn criticized Tony and Tony started to sob. Just like he had when he was in the department store.

And so when Tony starting sobbing in the innocent way that children can pull off, Dad felt remorse and let Tony sit on his lap.

"You can't hide anything from Mom" thought Dad. There is no point in even trying. Even if Mom had been in the shower, she would have suspected eventually that Dad & Tony were up to something.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

To Have or Not Have a Car in Wuxi, China?

As I ponder this question, I make the following thoughts and observations and statements:
  • Cars are nice things to have and they do cause those who don't have them to feel envious of those who do.
  • I don't have a car.
  • Be that as it may, the first Wuxi foreigners to have cars, with the exception of one German I knew, were insufferable to be around because they had cars. If there was any sense in this world – and there isn't much – those people should have had one of their digits cut off. This would have may be tolerable and even figures worthy of admiration.
  • My wife doesn't appear to want a car.
  • Many of my wife's relatives have cars, including one of her sisters.
  • So many people in Wuxi now have cars. I would even go as far to say that too many people in Wuxi now have cars.
  • The mob having cars is all the more reason than in individual shouldn't.
  • Wuxi has bad smog. Not as bad as Beijing or Shanghai but Wuxi's smog would be a scandal in Canada or America.
  • The fact that so many people have cars makes many places, including those that you can only get to by car, not worth going to because cars and crowds take the romance out of even the most scenic spots.
  • When I initially came here, I liked how I could live in Wuxi without owning a car. I could take buses and cars anywhere, and it was easy to hire a car with driver.
  • An e-bike is much cheaper than a car.
  • An e-bike is a pain in the ass to recharge and it is even more of a pain in the ass when it has a flat tire. It is easier to change a tire on a car than on an electric bike. And an electric bike that has a flat tire is a pain in the ass to try to push to the repairman.
  • Riding and e-bike or bicycle in the rain is not enjoyable, in the least.
  • Parking. The problem with cars is that they have to be parked. It has been pointed out that most of the time cars aren't moving but just taking up space. At my apartment complex, this is a very noticeable problem as cars will block paths meant for pedestrians and bicycles.
  • Living in my apartment complex, which has not enough speed bumps, I can see why speed bumps were invented.
  • Parking in downtown Wuxi is a pain, the students who own cars have told me. One student told me that she had to drive around the downtown for ten minutes before she could finally find a parking spot.
  • Some students tell me they pay as much as 800 rmb a month for parking in their apartment complex.
  • There is something ugly about a structure that is surrounded by parking space. Examples: Shopping Malls and Stadiums.
  • Cars give the average person freedom of mobility but they also seem to be an excuse for the government to exert more control. Governments like to mine car owners for money with speed cameras. Never are people more subject to the totalitarian impulses of the supposed democratic state than when they own cars
  • A neighborhood that you can walk through is more attractive than one that you have to drive through. I like the tight compact old neighborhoods in Wuxi where the lanes are as wide as apartment hallways.
  • Have a car and you have to go somewhere with it, even when you would rather stay home.
  • You need a lot of money to operate a car.
  • The opportunity costs of what you could do with the money you spend on owning and operating a car are high. In my case, I wouldn't be able to go back to Canada with my family if I owned a car.
  • Chinese drivers drive rudely and selfishly. If I drove about Wuxi, I would experience road rage. Chinese drivers like to drive on sidewalks and honk at pedestrians in front of them to get out of their way. In my apartment complex, drivers will do 50 kilometers per hour, oblivious to pedestrians, when proceeding along the narrow lane ways between the apartment buildings.
  • Chinese drivers cheat with their cars the way cyclists cheat with the bicycles.
  • I don't want to associate or have anything in common when persons who will not take into account the presence of pedestrians when making turns.
  • Many of the road are six lanes wide in the area of Wuxi where I live. It overwhelms a pedestrian and makes him feel like an inadvertent trespasser.
  • Public transportation in Wuxi is not bad, especially when you compare it to anywhere in Canada. In Wuxi, buses are plentiful and cheap to ride. Taking the subway is the best way to go to downtown Wuxi. I can take a shuttle bus without having to wait long for to get to the Subway which leaves every ten minutes for downtown.

I hope I have supplied a good list of the pros and cons of owing a car in Wuxi.

Weighing what I have said, I declare that currently I have no desire to own a car because I want to go to Canada and I want to own a Macbook computer. As well, I can get by quite nicely with the Wuxi public transportation system and using an e-bike. But more importantly, my wife doesn't appear to want to buy a car. If she is fine with not having a car, then I am happy. It is nice to not be alone when defying the world and the mob with it's materialistic impulses.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

To Have or Not Have Breakfast at 7 + 7?

In late August of 2014, I had breakfast at the 7 + 7 restaurant for the first time.

7 + 7 is a cafeteria style restaurant chain that is popular with the locals. Customers go in the restaurant, pick up trays and go along a line asking the servers to hand them various dishes just like they were in a cafeteria or a mess hall. 7 + 7, known as qi jia qi (七加七)to the locals, offers simple local fare, a lot of vegetables and meat dishes, at a reasonable price, or so the locals have said to me. I eat there sometimes, often for supper, but find it dull. If anything, it is a good place to get a big portion of plain white rice at a very cheap price.

One Thursday morning in August – Thursday morning is when I have an early shift at my school – I found myself having breakfast at the 7 + 7 that is near my school. I hadn't intended to do. What happened was this: I was getting off the train at the Metro station near my school when I ran a young woman with the English name of Sophia. I knew her from the bus I used to take back home in the days when there wasn't a Metro. Recognizing me and not having seen me for a while, Sophia invited me to have breakfast at 7 + 7.

I joined her but not before buying coffee at McDonald’s. In my over ten years in Wuxi, it has been my constant habit to have breakfast at McDonald's; and since I like to think of myself as a conservative reactionary, I needed someone, like Sophia, to get me to try something different.

When I walked into the 7 + 7 in the morning hours for the first time ever, I saw that Sophia had already gotten her food and had sat down. So I walked to the cafeteria line and picked up a tray. What I then saw was a revelation to me. 7 + 7 had a good selection of tasty breakfast food and so I had a big bowl of porridge, two youtiao (fried dough sticks), three fried dumplings, and two fried eggs. This all cost me less than a typical breakfast meal at McDonald's, and so I thought that I had found a new place to have breakfast every morning. I sat down and mentioned this to Sophia who also answered my queries about the progress of her pregnancy.

The next day, I returned to 7 + 7, and found that there wasn't as much breakfast food to choose from as there had been the day before. I figured this was because I went there at 9:00 AM instead of 8:00 AM as I had the first time. So I saw that I really had to get to 7 + 7 early if I wanted to have a big and satisfying breakfast.

I then tried to go to 7 + 7 a third time on Saturday and was thoroughly disappointed. There was no youtiao and no fried eggs and no dumplings. There was porridge, but eating it all by itself without any of my other favorite dishes, I felt like I was in prison, eating gruel.

But what really ruined that third visit was this loud, barbarous, wrinkly-faced, obnoxious, impatient woman who along with her friend barged ahead me and some others who were lined up and trying to get food from the cafeteria line workers.. She caused me to feel stranded as I stood waiting to get served and then to pay. Seeing her force her way to the front, I couldn't decide if it was good etiquette to move ahead of some people standing still in the cafeteria line. Were they waiting to be served? Or were they waiting to pay like I was? That loud ugly woman seemed to have not pondered that problem for a second. She had the single minded focus of a Wuxi driver or a Wuxi cyclist making a right turn without looking to the left to see if there was oncoming traffic.

Anyway, it was all enough to quickly dampened my enthusiasm for 7 + 7.

I may well go to 7 + 7 again, but the circumstances have to be right. I have to be downtown before eight and not on a weekend, and I have to hope that there isn't some man or woman hell bent on getting served before people who had come earlier.

So, I am stuck with McDonald's for breakfast for the foreseeable future.