Saturday morning, I had to send Tony off to school and so my usual Saturday morning routine was scuttled.
Previous Saturdays, I was able to wait at the bus stop till a bus came along with available seats, but not this Saturday. I took the first one that came and I had to stand.
Standing on the bus, I got shoved and pushed and jostled and elbowed and kneed and had my feet stepped on and the backpack, that I carried on my back, tugged hither and thither. It was not at all a pleasant experience!
But I did have the sensation of seeing a camel -- an animal not native to the Jiangsu province of China. As I stood on the bus, I first saw these two trucks parked along the side of a road near a bus stop. I could see from the crude photo-shopped imagery on their side that the trucks were being used by of some travelling circus troupe. I remembered seeing such a troupe in my wife Jenny's hometown in the countryside. It was when the bus pulled away from the stop that I saw the camel standing, leashed to a spike that had been hammered into the ground.
Never, I had I seen a camel before on the side of a road. I had previously seen them in a Zoo. But I had something to make a blog entry about!
I have just heard about the retraction This American Life had to do about a recent show they did about Apple in China. I remembered listening to the episode, which they now say they shouldn't have broadcast, and recalling that some things that Marc Daisey said weren't quite accurate and that they were the observations of somewhat who had paid a quick visit to China. This American Life, on that episode, then did have someone look into allegations made by Daisey and put them into proper perspective.
Now, I have just listened to the retraction episode of This American Life this morning and the controversy seems like a storm in teapot. There was nothing in the episode to make me think "Ha ha ha! Leftist NPR types making up stories!" The basic message of the original episode and the retraction episode about Apple both say that Chinese workers making Apple products in China work in ways that people in the West would find unacceptable.
Some Chinese workers will put in long hours to make money. I have seen many Chinese happily put up with living or working conditions that would make me squeamish.
Speaking of conditions. Jenny stayed with a cousin from her hometown while in Shanghai on Monday to pick up Tony's passport. She told me that three people were living in an apartment that was the size of our bedroom in Casa K. They shared a kitchen with four other families. This kitchen was the size of the Casa K kitchen but it had four stoves in it for the four families to use.
So many workers in China doing menial tasks and I so often take them for granted. I looked at worker at a restaurant I was in last night with my wife and her boss. How was it that this women in her forties or fifties, with withered arms, came to be working in this Korean place. She was performing tasks I stop doing in my twenties.
You can see the seventeenth bus stop of my stirring photo series here.
I ask the students to tell me a famous person they admire. They often say either Chairman Mao or Deng Xiao Peng.
I ask the students what they don't like about Chinese culture. One student mentioned spitting. Another said The ******ist ***ty. I let the second thing said pass without comment.
The best pizza in Wuxi is to be found at Trattoria Ferrara Italian Restaurant near our school. TF's address is #2 118 Zhongshan Road. TF actually faces a side street that is off Zhongshan Road near the Ming Du Da Xia apartments. Go there or be square!!!
We have got Tony's passport. We have got Jenny's Visa. We'll be going back to Canada from Late May to Early June. I will be playing a lot of Yahtzee with my father in Brandon, Manitoba.
And then there is the Baseball History Podcast. You may not like the announcer's voice and speaking style but I have grown to appreciate and like it. A genuine amateur who loves what he is talking about without the bombast and the slickness. He has lots of interesting information to pass on about baseball history. A baseball card turned into a podcast. What could be finer?
Jenny and Tony went to Shanghai to pick up Tony's passport. They took the fast train out there and the slow train back. Only 20 rmb to ride the slow train if you are willing to give up an hour of your life.
Saturday, a student told me that they would avoid McDonald's. They heard a report that McDonald's was not discarding unsold food after two hours but after five hours. As well, the student heard a report about someone finding a worm in McDonald's meat.
Reminds me of a time, six years ago, when a Wuxi person told me about stories of KFC breeding mutant chickens with six legs.
I did an English Corner on Popularity. I asked the students who was popular in Wuxi. A student at the back said Mao Xiao Peng, in an ironic tone, and the other students laughed. Mao Xiao Peng had been Mayor till he was deposed because of corruption allegations.
A student tells me that her grandfather almost faced combat in the Korean War. He was part of the third way of the PLA that was going to cross the Yalu River into Korea. But just as it was about to cross, the war ended.
Another student told me that his grandparents had a golden cow that had to be turned over during the Cultural Revolution.
Another student told me about a great grandparent of hers that lived till the age ninety. The student was twenty years old when the great grandparent died!
I picked a quarrel with a student during an SPC about quarreling.
There are security shacks at the car entrances to the Jiazhouyangfang apartment complex in which Casa K is located. Cars entering the complex have to wait for the guards to open gates. Nothing that I have to worry about. But I have observed that there seems to be a battle going on between the apartment complex together with the guards, and the car owners over parking. The car owners don't want to buy parking spots because they are too expensive. I see that the security guards are always placing warnings and notices on parked cars demanding money or that the cars park somewhere else. Yesterday, I saw a car parked so as to block the entrance lane at the guard shack. The guards were letting cars enter and exit the complex using the exit lane. I asked Jenny what was up with the car parked, a notice still stuck on its windshield, so as to block the entrance; and she told me that the driver was probably mad at the security guards always asking for money. The security company is changing at the end of this month.
Doesn't anything happen in Wuxi? If you look at the websites that cater to Wuxi Expats, you would think nothing did. And it is probably true. People get drunk and play the field, but that isn't world shaking stuff. That is why I write the Wuxi China Expatdom Blog. I need a world full of interesting characters and incredible events. I couldn't sustain a blog writing about what actually happens to me in the real Wuxi.
Religion or Alcoholism? That is the metaphysical choice some people think they are stuck with. I should side with the Chinese, or at least the students at school, who when asked a question involving two hard choices, try to opt out by choosing a third or accepting both options: a little bit of religion and a little bit of drink.
The beer prices in Wuxi Expat pubs are frightfully expensive, or so I have heard. Some of them charge more for one beer than I pay for for a case of 12 tall bottles of Tsingtao at the small shop near Casa K.
People who don't like Hot Dogs and/or McDonald's are enemies of freedom! I would even go so far as to say that they are fascists!
For anyone to say they don't like hot dogs is to say they are against Apple Piece, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Valley Forge, Ronald Reagan, Baseball, Jazz and Martin Luther King saying he had a dream.
For anyone to say they don't like McDonald's is to say that they hate Capitalism which is the biggest provider of human freedom.
And anyone who pleads that their dislike of Hot Dogs and/or McDonald's is simply a matter of taste is being a snob, which is to be worse than a fascist. Say what you like about fascists but they as least provide some portion of humanity with hope. Snobs like to make all other people to feel inferior without any hope whatsoever.
So go to the McDonald's in Wuxi and celebrate human freedom, human decency, liberty, the aspirations of the common man to better himself and the love of humanity! Have the breakfast hot dog which comes with a small coffee for the price of 10 rmb! You can do what I do and order two. Of course, you end up with two cups of coffee which may be more than you need. But you can always give the coffee away! And if you don't like Hot Dogs, don't forget that it is your duty to buy the breakfast coffee all the same. I may be in the restaurant at the same time and you can give it to me.
Let the clarions of freedom ring from the top of Hui Shan to the shores of Taihu!!!
An AKIC weekend isn't the same as a TKIC or JKIC weekend. Alas.
I have been reading lots of Andrew Breitbart obits since his very untimely death late last week. He certainly was a courageous fellow in that he was willing to face being hated by people who disagreed with him. I wish I could have been much more that way. On this blog, I have turned off a few readers with my political opinions but I have learned to live with that. Those people are too far away and disembodied to matter. But, alas, in person I have let too much vile anti-Americanism, vile anti-Catholicism, Atheism, and vile anti-Conservatism pass before me without retort. I am an utter coward on that front, and I am either hated or disrespected because of it.
I wish I had brought my camera out when I saw these two examples of locals doing calisthenics: 1) An old man was doing a slow march around the Jiazhouyangfang apartment complex. He looked like a PLA Solidier marching in slow motion. 2)A taxi driver, his vehicle parked on the side of the road, was doing Tai Chi. He looked, from a distance, like he was dancing besides his car.
Three cheers for Rush Limbaugh! His only mistake was that he used crude words to tell the truth. He was big enough to admit he shouldn't have used those words, but the essence of the argument he was making was correct. But truth doesn't matter to the Left and they really don't care, truly, about men being gentlemen and not saying crude or untrue things about women. How come none of them apologized for the vile blood-libels they made about Sarah Palin after the Arizona tragedy? Some even went so far as to question Palin defending herself and using the word blood-libel.
As I just got out of the apartment, on Saturday morning, I saw security and a few others pondering what to do about a parking problem. Near the building containing Casa K, there are four parking spaces into which to do drive-in or turn-into parking. In this day and era of every Chinese person having a car, this is not enough parking. So on the side of the lane, that runs along of Casa K and the parking spaces, there are lots and lots of cars parked. Saturday morning, there was no place to park, so a driver decided to park his van in front of two cars occupying the drive-in spaces. Security and the driver of the one the cars blocked by the van were conferring about what to do.
Later while on the bus, all the passengers did a double-take. I joined them in the head-nodding ritual as I saw an accident scene where a car and a truck with trailer were stopped, an E-bike was lying on its side, an E-biker's helmet was lying on the ground and a man was carried, on a stretcher, into an ambulance. A body being carried on a stretcher was something I had never seen before at an accident scene in China. The man must have been unconscious as his arms were not against his side, but spread outwards like he was Jesus being crucified.
Friday morning, I took the bus to school. I got a back row seat on the bus and I pulled my Chinese textbooks out of my backpack and began to study them. I was concentrating on the books pretty well considering I was fatigued from having stayed up late the night before to read reaction to the death of Andrew Breitbart.
But I couldn't help but notice that a woman sitting beside me suddenly got up very quickly. I looked up and saw the big tummy of a pregnant woman standing in the narrow aisle right in front of the back row where we were seated. No one had yielded her a seat which was should have been done. The woman besides me noticed and did the right thing.
I wonder what I would have done if it had been I had who noticed first.
I am Canadian. I have lived in Wuxi, China since September 2004. I teach English. In this blog, I recount the things I have seen and the experiences I have had here in Wuxi. I also make comments on things that strike my reactionary fancy.