What's the narrative? Damned if I know. I am just trying to slog it through another humid Wuxi summer. My blogging has been less regular but I am trying to blog by collecting bits of observations here and there.
Romney or Obama?
I have been asking the students this question. Some of them, that is the ones who don't say they don't care, have told me they want Obama to win. When I asked them why, they told me they didn't know anything about Mitt Romney. I then told them this sounded like a case of better the devil you know than the one you don't.
Professor or Businessman?
After lukewarm response to the Obama - Romney question, I then asked the students if they would vote for a Professor or a Businessman to be their leader. A majority of them said they would vote for the professor. (I would vote for the businessman. Professors are very likely to be practical people.)
The heat of the Wuxi Summer is driving me insane. It is making lazy and incapable of any concentrated thought.
The heat is humid here which means lots of rain coming down in buckets.
Kids? No! Brats!
Lots of Kids coming to our school in summer? No! Lots of brats coming to our school in summer.
Actually, there doesn't seem to be that many kids coming this Summer.
Many of the students don't like the fact that China has only one political party, and they are openly telling me this in class.
Reaction to My Haircut
A few people have said my haircut makes me look gay. However, those who were of good will [sic], have said: I changed from looking respectable to more sexy looking in a bad boy way; I looked like a U.S. Marine (people who should, but never in a million years, will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize); I looked better with my old hair style; and I looked more aerodynamic. However, most just expressed surprise without offering any opinion.
Encounters on the Street
I had a couple of encounters of note on the street: first with a local and then with a foreigner.
The first was pleasant enough. I was crossing the sidewalk on the way to my bus stop when this short Chinese man, of modest status, caught my eye and gave me a friendly nod. I nodded back and looked him over. Beside being of modest status, for he could have been a street person, he looked the type who had never before encountered foreigners. He wore old clothes, a dirty cap, and a thin and straggly beard -- he had probably never shaved in his life. Catching my eye again, he gave me another friendly nod and then another after that. I felt slightly embarrassed but the man's need to acknowledge me and have me acknowledge me stuck with me. Still, I wished I had given him a long hug. If everyone could be like that all the time to everyone!
The second encounter with the foreigner was enough to sap my spirit. I was walking to a convenience store when this man, who I had never seen before, greeted me in a familiar manner. I didn't know him from Jack Robinson, so it was awkward till I told him that I didn't know him. He tried to excuse himself by saying I looked like someone he had talked to the previous evening, after he had drunken eight bottles of some local brand of beer. Not wanting to seem unfriendly, all the while thinking what a lush because he was talking with a slur, I continued conversing with him and I learned that he had been in Wuxi for a week and was working at some school for children. I also learned that He had just finished work for the day and that he was heading to the same convenience store as I was. There, I bought some ice tea; he bought three bottles of beer.
The English teacher that gives all English teachers a bad name, as he crawls into his bottle after having taught a class!
What is a side effect of taking medicine I asked the students. One student said death.
Yes, death can be a side effect of taking medicine!
The Italian Restaurant
Four pizzas this week at the Italian Restaurant that is down the lane from our school!
A student, I was talking to, told me he went to a school with foreign and Chinese teachers. He thought it was strange that the foreign teachers didn't like to teach before nine a.m.. He also observed that the foreign teachers liked to get out of the school as quickly as possible when their final class ended and head off to some party. The Chinese teachers stayed after class to finish their work.
I then asked the student about the difference in teaching methods between the Chinese and Foreign teachers. The Foreigners, he told me, liked to ask questions; the Chinese teachers just talked. Asking whose method he preferred, he told me, the Chinese because he was never able to stay attention for an entire class.
Fapiao is Pinyin for an official tax receipt. I have been having to collect fapiao because of new laws requiring foreigners to pay some social security tax. We can get tax deductions if we collect fapiao when for paying for things like meals at restaurants.
I was just told that if you ask for fapiao, some places will charge you extra. They would rather do their dealings without fapiao to save money for themselves and their customers. Seems rather corrupt if you ask me but this is China.
Waiter Forgot His List
This is how Groupons work in China: If you use them to go to a restaurant, you will get inferior service and smaller-than-normal portions. Waiters will tell you that they lost the paper on which they had recorded their order.
This would be the sign of complete incompetence in a profession. The equivalent of a taxi driver forgetting to bring his taxi with him. But I had a student tell me that this has happened to her a lot in restaurants.
Incompetent, unless it is done on purpose.
London Olympics: the Students Don't Care
Actually, I couldn't care less either, but I do like the feeling of shared indifference, this "I don't care either!" None of the twenty five students I asked in my English Corner said they were excited by the upcoming London Olympics.
The way I see it, the Olympics seem to be a festival for government workers, and so must be a waste of money. A lot off effort and money is put into hosting a two-week long event -- more than is warranted for a sporting event.
I also notice that as I get older, the interval between successive Olympics seems to get shorter. The four years between 2008 and 2012 seemed to have been but a fortnight while the four years between 1972 and 1976, the first Olympics I can remember, seemed to have taken ten years.
Why Are You Late?
An adolescent-age student arrived at class five minutes late for a ten o'clock Sunday morning class. He said he was late because of traffic. I didn't believe him. I told he was probably lying and had slept in. He denied this but after I grilled him for a few minutes, he revealed that he had woken up at 920.
His manner as he entered, gave him away.
Not Easy to Get Tourist Visas for China
Apparently, it is harder to get a Tourist Visa for China. It used to be that all you had to get was pay your money and fill out a form. Now, you have to provide financial information like a bank statement.
In one way, I am glad to see this being done. I have seen too many people go to Hong Kong to get a tourist visa so they can come back to China and work illegally.