Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Andis Kaulins in China Diary: November 25 to December 1, 2013

Monday [November 25]
[Home Laptop]
  • I don't work today.
  • I stayed at home. In the afternoon, I do go out with Jenny to do some grocery shopping at Tesco.
  • At the food court near the Tesco, I ate sushi. Afterward, as I was with Jenny in the Tesco, the food all came back to me, and I had to do the squats in the public toilet.
  • I can't remember when it was that I last did the squats. I hate to squat because I just can't do it properly. I have to take off my pants so as not to splatter on them.
  • I have a suspicion that one of the foreign trainers at my school has trained himself to do the squats.
  • At the apartment, I posted a lot of entries to all my blogs the Internet.
  • On his arrival home from school at 4:00 PM, Tony immediately complained that the train set, which had been set up on Sunday afternoon, had been taken down. So, I set it up for him after supper.
  • I was watching, off and on, the Keys to the Kingdom, a film in which Gregory Peck plays a priest and sets up a mission in China. The Chinese, spoken, as far as I can tell, was authentic.

Tuesday [November 26]
[Home Laptop]
  • I work 13:00 to 21:00 today.
  • I didn't want to arise this morning, but I had to. I had to take Tony, who was less willing than me to get up, to get picked up by the car, a black VW sedan, that takes him to school.
  • When I was in grade one, I walked to school by myself.
  • When I was in grades three to six and living in Quebec, I took the bus to school. At the lunchtime, the bus would pick us up from school and take us back home where Mom would make us a hot lunch. At Tony's school, the lunch period is so short that Jenny has to ride the e-bike out to school to feed him.
  • Jenny has to go to the school because the food at the school is terrible and Tony won't touch it.
  • Last night, I phoned my Mother, who lives by herself in Brandon, Manitoba. My sister is paying her a visit but because I was so sleepy when I phoned, I only talked to Mom. I hope I am awake enough to talk to my sister tonight.
  • Mom voted in a Federal by-election.
  • I haven't shaved since Saturday morning.
  • I enjoyed the film Keys to the Kingdom that I finished watching yesterday. They don't make films like that anymore. They, being the major film makers. The Keys to the Kingdom show religious people in a good light.

[School Laptop]
  • I took the 25 bus to school and I just happened to get a glimpse of the new metro train doing a test run on the portion of track where the train goes from underground to above ground. It was going at a fast clip. Too bad, Tony wasn't with me to see it – he would have been very excited.
  • Tony won't be happy when he comes home this afternoon because I again had to put away his train set.

Wednesday [November 27]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 13:00 to 21:00.
  • You can order Crown Royal Whiskey on Taobao! When I got home last night, I was happy to see that it had finally arrived.
  • The Conservatives won the by-election in Brandon, Mom told me, by a thousand votes. The CJOB podcast said by four hundred.
  • To celebrate the arrival of my new bottle of Crown Royal, I almost finished off the old bottle which I had been saving till an auspicious enough occasion arose that I could drink it. And last night, I decided that the arrival of a new bottle of Crown was just such an occasion. I had saved two slugs of Crown in that old bottle but only drank one last night. My next chance to finish off the bottle will come on Saturday.
  • Who would have thunk it? There I was in China, listening to a Winnipeg Blue Bombers press conference. They hired a new general manager
  • Last night, I talked to my sister who was in Brandon to visit our mother. We engaged in friendly chat.
  • Mom mentioned wind chill factors of minus twenty five in Brandon!!! Do I miss that? Yes, I do.
  • I am wearing a cardigan sweater today because reports predict the temperature in Wuxi could get down to zero degrees.

Thursday [November 28]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 10:00 to 21:00.
  • I am wearing long johns today because it is cold, for Wuxi; and temperatures could go down to around zero degrees Celsius. [I know this isn't as bad as in Manitoba from where I was listing to a CJOB podcast about the differences between winter tires and all season radial tires. The report, if it could be believed, said winter tires are much better than all-season tires. The latter, it was said during the podcast, should really be called no-season radials.]
  • I had a blue screen this morning on my school laptop. As I was typing out today's diary entry, my word processing program froze and then crashed. All I had just typed in was lost.
  • And as I was waiting for the laptop to reboot, I had a filling come out. I didn't think I had any fillings left in my mouth. I had had three fall out last year and I have been scared to look at my teeth because I knew they were in such a bad way.
  • I have been putting off going to the dentist for a long time. I do have money on my social insurance card that I can use towards dental work.
  • Dentists are an issue for expats here. Some of the dentists hear will yank out teeth without pain-numbing medicine.

Friday [November 29]
[School Laptop]
  • I work 11:00 to 21:00 today.
  • Nippy outside. What else can I say?
  • I go to the Government Administration Building in the new CBD to do a lunchtime English Corner with an indeterminate number of civil servants.
  • I heard that the owners of the Havana Cafe are selling the business. While it hadn't loss money, the pub hadn't made enough money to make it worth the owners' while.
  • On the 81 bus, I refused an older man who was trying to yield me his seat. I am not sure why this happens to me. Do I look that old and infirm?
  • I voraciously read this book about the Kennedy Assassination which was written by Vincent Bugliosi.
  • LATER: I have gone to the Wuxi government central administration center and done my lunch hour English corner. It was my second time to do it. The first time, I did the English Corner in a large conference room with heavy wooden tables and chairs, high ceilings, and a carpeted floor – it was very plush but not the ideal setting for an English corner. So today, the powers-that-be decided to hold the English corner in an area, with sofas, that was in a hallway on a fourth level of a very high and open interior space. It was like holding an English corner in a walkway overlooking the open central area of a multi-floored shopping mall, like the Hen Long plaza. The place where I talked to the students today offered a brilliant view of a lake that was surrounded on its two sides by bricked walkways. The walkways curved towards each other at the far end of the end lake where there was a brick bridge. The walkways, I was told, lead to stairways on the bridge which allowed one to cross, get to the other walkway, and make a circuit of the lake which could be walked in thirty minutes.
  • I asked two of the students where they worked and they told me that they worked in the discipline department. Not knowing what they meant, I got them to try and clarify, and they then told me that they worked in the discipline department for the members of the Communist Party of China. I realize now they meant to say the disciplinary department.
  • Hearing the world discipline, I should have made jokes about stud leather collars, leather clothing, whips, and chains. Instead, I tried to relate it to Xi Jing Ping talking of reducing corruption in the government. That fell flat. Of course, the other attempt would have fallen flat too but it was a better joke.

Saturday [November 30]
[School Computer]
  • I work 10:00 to 18:00.
  • Last night, I didn't get a seat on the 635 bus home. The bus I take to the 635 stop, that be the 118, was late -- I had been recently taking this bus after school so as to better ensure that I got a seat on the 635. I had discovered that by taking the 118 I could get to an earlier stop on the 635 route that was by the International Hotel (across from Baoli) and so I could avoid the crowded stop (by Wall Street English) and the wrestling that takes place there when it is time to board the bus and get a seat. But the 118 has to arrive earlier enough by my school to allow me do this. Last night, the 118 did not come right away and I had two 67 buses which I could have taken to the crowded and later stop but didn't. I decided to chance it and wait for the 118 but when it did arrive I got to my preferred 635 stop by the International hotel a minute too late – I saw the 635 come to the stop and I was too far away to catch it. So I had to go a stop across the street (by the Jinling Hotel next to the Baoli Shopping Mall) and stand when I did board the bus.
  • At the end of it all, I survived having to stand all the way home for fifty minutes. I listened to my Ipod and thought of the standing as a kind of penance for having always been so fortunate as to have a seat so, so many times before.

[Home Laptop]
  • The classes today were outstanding. I was giddy as I taught them. However, giddiness always make me feel remorseful later. Was I talking too fast? I wondered.
  • When I got home, there were six rowdy children and Tony in the living room – a nightmare. Jenny was having a party for Tony and his friends. I couldn't wait till they got out. They looked to be wrecking all of Tony's toys.
  • Christmas is not going to be very good this year for me. The day is going to be sandwiched in between two working days. So, I will be working on my birthday, the 24th, till 9:00 PM. That evening, I will be faced with the prospect of a depressing one hour bus ride home. Thankfully, I will have Tony and Jenny waiting for me when I get home. Boxing Day, the 26th, will be on a Thursday which happens to be my longest day of the week, so Christmas evening, I will have to go to bed early.
  • What do other expats do for Christmas? I suppose many will be going to an overpriced meal at some Expat pub. My wife, who controls the family purse, won't put up with that.

Sunday [December 1]

  • I don't work today. Yahoo!
  • I was up at 6:20 AM this morning. I couldn't sleep in even I wanted to. So, I got dressed and walked to the Tesco. Walking around it at eight o'clock, I was surprised to see how deserted it was. You would think that there would be lots of Wuxi shoppers up at the time, but either they were the Wanda Plaza Grocery Store or it was even too early for them to be shopping.
  • I walked to the Tesco and enjoyed the crisp cold of the morning since I was dressed for it.
  • Losing that filling earlier this week brought on a temporary feeling of relief since the loose feeling must have been causing me some discomfort. But now, it is painful to chew food with the teeth that I have remaining. So. I have am going to have to see a dentist!
  • But not this week!
  • Tony whines as Jenny tries to cajole him to do his homework.
  • Talking to Jenny, I doubly realize that Christmas is not going to very enjoyable this year. We don't want to repeat what we did last year and go to a cheap buffet restaurant promising a turkey dinner that turns out to be disappointing – and we can't afford to go to a place that would serve anything halfway decent.
  • And the excitement I had about buying Tony some toys was severely dampened by the thief who stole the money I had been saving up in my desk at work for this purpose.
  • I will just have to make the best of it.

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