Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary: November 4 to November 10, 2013

Monday [November 4]
[Home Laptop]
Last night, I went to the Blue Marlin, a western style chain restaurant. When I have time during this week, I will provide you with my commentary about it.

The reason I went there was because the trainers at school were doing a send-off for trainer Dennis Gorman. Dennis is some part of the U.K., probably Wales. He worked at the school for seven years.

I got home from the Blue Marlin about 11:30 PM last night.

I woke up, this morning, with an unbearable headache – a good reminder of why I should spend all the time I can with my family and eschew the pubs.

I took the 635 bus to get downtown yesterday afternoon to get to the Blue Marlin. I wanted to see where the 635 stopped before it got to the stop I usually catch it at in the evening. Now that I have this information, I will never have to worry about not having a seat on the bus.

I tried to find another Ultraman Egg toy for Tony when I did get downtown but, alas, the particular model of the toy Jenny had bought and I had lost for Tony was sold out. It wasn't to be found at the toy store in the Hen Long Plaza or at the Ba Bai Ban toy store.

Walking to the Blue Marlin, which is located in the Nanchang Temple Market area behind the Nikko Hotel, I saw a tourist taking a photo of a traditional Chinese looking structure on Zhongshan Road on a corner across the street from Nanchang Temple. With disdain, I thought how I should have told him that the building, which looked old, had been built about three years ago.

Tony threw up at school this morning. Jenny got the news from the teacher. She has to go to school now and change his clothes.

It turned out that Tony didn't vomit. He had spitting problems.

Jenny & I went to the Jinling Hotel for a lunch buffet. Feeling like crap because of the beer drunk the night before, I had to abstain from having beer.

Tuesday [November 5]
[Home Laptop]
At suppertime yesterday, I still felt like crap. I had a sore throat and felt pain when I tried to swallow. The big lunch I had was getting back to me. With my plumbing being so uncertain these days, I felt sharp pains in the right abdomen. I also had a headache. Whatever bug or virus I had caught was causing me to feel congestion and discomfort in my chest. All I wanted to do was go to sleep.

And so from 6:30 to 8:30 PM I slept on the couch. Tony laid a blanket on me which was very sweet of him. Jenny roused me from the couch, had me take a shower, and I was in bed by 9:00 PM. I then awoke at 6:30 AM.

Up this morning, I felt a little better, but symptoms of the bug I had caught remained. I now have a slight headache, a sore throat, a runny nose, congestion in the head and chest. I have taken a couple tylenols and drunk a lot of water.

I was going to say some more about the Wuxi Blue Marlin. I was unimpressed. While its décor was very nice and plush, its menu was nothing special – it was basically pub grub that was so dime-a-dozenish back in Canada. Chinese are right to scoff at the lack of variety in Western style restaurants.

Creature comforts. Living in China for nine years on a low salary and having a child, I have had to give up a lot of creature comforts like going to pubs like the Blue Marlin. I see now that I haven't been missing much. That evening at the Blue Marlin put me out of commission for a day – it wasn't worth it except to reconfirm that I was not missing much.

I downloaded and then watched an old Dean Martin Roast video yesterday. The man being honored was Bob Hope who was roasted by the likes of Don Rickles, Milton Berle, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Nipsy Russel, Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, Omar Bradley, Neil Armstrong, Phyllis Diller, Jack Benny and Flip Wilson. A few of the celebrities who were just there and didn't get to say anything, or perhaps they didn't make the final edit, were Ginger Rodgers, Johnny Bench, Mark Spitz and Sugar Ray Robinson. The list of celebrities at this roast, truly, was much better than the jokes. Not to say that I didn't laugh.

[School Laptop]
I am school. Last night, I was feeling like I wouldn't be up to being here. After a good sleep, it doesn't seem so torturous but...

I took the 610 bus and transferred to the 85 bus to get to school.

I don't know if I will have much else to say today because I feel like I am busy.

Wednesday [November 6]
[School Laptop]
Someone broke into the school last night, and rummaged through some of the offices, stealing a large amount of cash from the pay office.

The thief came into my office and broke into the locked drawers of my desk. He grabbed a hold of the can of change I had in my drawer (Tony's toy fund) but didn't decided not to take it. My laptop wasn't damaged. The Lipton tea can is currently in police custody for finger printing.

Funny how the break-in occurred just days before I was going to move out of the office anyway.

And I was also intending today to clean up the office for my move.

So other than a broken lock on a desk drawer, I don't appear to have lost anything.

I learned about the break-in by phone. They wanted to know if I had anything valuable in the desk that the thief might have wanted.

When I came to school, I was of course curious to see the damage. In my office, the top drawer of my desk, where I had the can of change, was on the floor. In the office across the hall from mine, the contents of desk drawers were still on the floor waiting for one of our female staff to clean them up on their arrival.

The thief appeared to be looking for big money and panties.

The theft was caught on video. The thief was a male and very skinny.

He broke into the school through its front entrance which has been secured very crudely with nothing but a bicycle lock holding the handles of the pair of doors together. Being very thin, all he had to do was open the double doors enough so he shimmy his way through.

From my office, he was able to get on a chair and hop into the next door cash office. From there, he opened the cash office window and was able walk on a ledge to get into other offices down the hallway.

From the video, it was learned that the thief entered the school about four AM and left at about six.

I took the 602bus and then the 81 bus to school.

I just got the can back from the police. All the paper money that I had been saving for Tony's Christmas present was taken. The coins are still there. So I did lose something after all.

The students, in my English corner, told me that I have a lovely nose. But, I learned later, that they say that about all foreigners.

Thursday [November 7]
[School Laptop]
I work 10:00 to 21:00 today. It is my long day of the week, or rather the day of the week when I spend the longest time away from Casa Kaulins.

I am settled in the big office with the other foreign trainers. Last evening at suppertime, the move was effected. I now sit in one corner of the office across from Vaughan (from South Africa) and next to Zach (from Chicago Land).

This morning, I saw a bunch of fancy-uniformed traffic cops at the 101 Hospital (the military hospital in Wuxi). I took a photo which you can see at AKIC Wordpress. The entry is entitled By the 101 Hospital.

I then saw about fifty security guards standing at attention at the gate by the Chongan Market which is near Wall Street English. I took photos of the guards in formation being harangued by a man with a loudhailer, but the photos weren't worth publishing.

Friday [November 8]
[School Laptop]
I work 11:00 to 21:00.

Last night, I was attempting to cross a street near Baoli so I could get to the bus stop to catch the 635 and go home. I waited and then proceeded on the green pedestrian signal. I took two steps and was swiped by an e-bike that was attempting to go through a red light. The e-bike, with a young male driver and young female passenger, came to a temporary halt and then continued on its way, running the red light. I wasn't hurt, but by the time I was aware of what had happened (I was listening to an absorbing podcast on my Ipod), the e-bike had gone through the red light and there was nothing I could do but watch it ride off into the distance. I could only rue not having been able to have had the presence of mind to have throttled the driver. It would have been lovely to have given his head a corner of my elbow.

I then arrived home and was told by Jenny that Tony is having trouble at school. He is falling behind in his pinyin studies and the teachers are putting pressure on Jenny to get Tony to improve. (In Wuxi, parents are expected to help their children do their homework.) The teachers are also telling Jenny that Tony is being a disturbance in class – punching the other children and so on. Apparently, as well, Tony has no male friends among the classmates and plays with the girls. Jenny is thinking of pulling him out of school by the next term, and having him go back to school to restart grade one next fall.

Jenny is coming around to my point that Tony will always have problems in school because he is the youngest in his class, having been born on August 23 which is but one week from the September 1 cutoff date which determines which grades a student can go into.

That, and the fact that Tony is a mixed blood baby subject to the racism of the Chinese and also subject to resentment of his supposed privilege because of his foreign status, and I can see why the teachers don't seem to like him and why Jenny is having a horrible time with Tony at a Chinese public school.

I saw two army trucks drive down a road near Casa Kaulins. Maybe the soldiers are staying the Hui Shan Ramada Plaza.

This morning, as I was riding on the bus going down Zhongshan Road, I saw a large crowd outside the Far Eastern Department Store. What they were there for I had no idea. But as the bus went down the street, the next building was an empty department store. One has to wonder if the Far Eastern can survive with the openings of the two mega malls in Downtown Wuxi.

What to read now? I have finished the three books that I had been reading the past week, so as I type this now, I can start any book I want... It's a difficult decision.

I may read Gulag by Anne Applebaum or The Rise of Modern China by Immanuel C Y HSU, or a book on SJAM (Sir John A MacDonald), or something else that I have, in what is an extensive library, on my Ipad.

Saturday [November 9]
[School Laptop]
I work 10:00 to 18:00.

The cold ,I currently have, displayed it worst manifestations yesterday as I was hacking the whole day through.

Last night was the last time I would be able to sit beside the girl who I had labeled my 635 Bus companion. Sophia in fact is/was a study adviser at Web, a school whose name I really shouldn't mention since they are evil competition to my school. Sophia has resigned from the school and her last day is tomorrow (Sunday). The school wanted her to work both days on the weekend which was not kosher since her fiancee was working Monday to Friday.

Once she is finished at Web, Sophia plans to take a month off and explore the touristy spots near Wuxi like Shanghai and Hangzhou before she looks for another job. Since coming from Shandong to Wuxi, her work schedule hasn't permitted her to go anyway and see anything – Web had her working six days a week. She plans to find work in another industry, vowing never to work again as an English teacher. She will be getting married next year and I will be invited to her Wuxi wedding party. (I have posted one of her wedding photos on AKIC wordpress.)

I saw a tiger this morning! I really did! The tiger was in a cage outside the Wuxi Hui Shan Wanda Plaza.

Seeing the Tiger was almost exciting as the time I saw a camel on the way to work. That humped creature was sitting on a roadside near a bus stop. It was traveling with a gypsy like circus troupe.

As soon as I arrived home last night, Tony wanted my Ipad mini. He looked at the new cars I had purchased on the Real Racing App. He then raced. I asked him how he did and if he had won the race. He responded saying “No! I was number five!” The first time he had ever used a number in an ordinal sense with me.

[Home Laptop]
Lasagna for supper! I love my Jenny!

At school, I gulped down some cola rather too quickly and damn near choked myself.

Saturday night and Jenny is torturing Tony by making him do his homework. Poor fellow.

Sunday [November 10]
Today is a day off for me.

Lest I forget, tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada. I had a poppy, brought from Canada, to wear for the day but I misplaced it or lost it. I do make a point of observing the day by displaying a poppy on my websites. Tomorrow, I will mark the day on the We Chat app for the edification of my Chinese contacts.

China has a military day on July 1, I believe. But I have never witnessed anything done to observe the day. China does have fallen soldiers that are worthy of honor – the ones that fought against the Japanese in WW2. Unfortunately, as a foreigner and an anti-Communist, I would feel very uncomfortable honoring the fallen soldiers of China in any way that would have a connection with the PLA. In fact, the PLA has been a force for expanding the Chinese Empire, the army of Chinese Imperialism.

It is cold and damp outside but I won't complain. I understand it is far colder in Canada these days.

Tony has my Ipad and is watching train videos on Youku. He had been doing homework, for two hours with Jenny.

I have been playing on the computer the whole day. I still haven't recuperated from my cold though the fact that it is a day off makes me feel one hundred percent better.

Yesterday, I did talk to a woman who had a son in grade one of primary school. I had to ask her about his birthday. Her son was born in January 2007 (Tony was born in August 2007). The woman said that January was the ideal month for a primary school student to be born. Telling her about Tony's birth month, she commented that he was probably too young to be in grade one.

I am watching Peeping Tom, a British film made in the 1960s about a man who likes to film his victims as he kills them. I am halfway through the film and find it excruciating to watch.

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