Monday, July 7, 2014

Diary: July 1 to July 7, 2014


  • Andis celebrates Dominion Day, his country's national day, by doing an English Corner about his country.

  • Bemusingly, Andis observes the students lack of knowledge of his country.

  • The Wuxi Metro begins operation on its first line. Andis is very excited about this.

  • Andis gets emotional during a company class.

  • On American Independence Day, Andis does an English Corner about America.

  • Andis discovers he has been missing much by not staying up to watch the WC.

  • Andis & Tony take the train to downtown Wuxi on Monday.

  • Andis witnesses a particularly egregious example of a child urinating in public.

Tuesday [July 1]

[Home Laptop]

  • Dominion Day. I will observe it by doing an English Corner about Canada and listening to podcasts from CJOB. I have put two Dominion Day related postings to the We Chat app. I don't think I will be talking to a single Canadian today.

  • It is also the first day of operation of the Wuxi Metro. I don't plan on taking it in the morning. I will be taking it to get home tonight.

[School Laptop]

  • I took the 602支 to get to school this morning. Downtown, I saw people going into the subway stations. I was annoyed because these fences had been put up that blocked my usual path to cross Zhongshan Road. And so I had to walk a little further than had been necessary to get to where I wanted to go.

  • I was thinking. If there isn't a shuttle bus to get me to the subway station, I will only be taking the subway at night.

  • I am in a foul mood this morning. It was a case of damned if you do and dammed if you don't with Jenny. I would have banged my head against the wall but it wouldn't have done any good or bad.

  • I just done my Canada Day English Corner. The students don't know much about Canada. The first famous Canadian to come to be mentioned by the students was Justin Bieber. To fill out a list of ten famous Canadians, one student named seven wrestlers from WWE. I thought the students could name twenty places in Canada. They told me five.

Wednesday [July 2]

[School Laptop]

  • Today's shift: 13:00 to 21:00.

  • As I was getting ready to go to my Chinese class, it was raining heavily and so I decided to cancel the class. It would have been a nice day to stay home.

  • I took the subway home last night. It was nice but I then have to walk twenty minutes, at a brisk pace, to get to Casa Kaulins. I do get home about twenty minutes earlier.

  • I am another foul mood today. I was awoken at 4:00 AM by excruciatingly annoying whining by Tony that went on for half-an-hour.

  • I had to wait thirty minutes for a bus this morning.

  • There was a lineup, thirty long, of people waiting to put money on their bus and metro passes. I stood in the line.

  • So far, I have had two long waits and one weak student – I haven't blown a gasket yet. I don't plan on blowing gasket. I would rather I didn't blow a gasket, but I can see a blown gasket coming today or at least a episode of being stricken with rage.

Thursday [July 3]

[School Laptop]

  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 21:00.

  • I took the subway home last night. The train seemed to be more crowded than the night before. Walking from the station to Casa Kaulins, I didn't walk through the park as I had done the previous evening. I still walked down this street with many shops and businesses, and dropped in one to get something to drink.

  • The subway will mean my having to walk more. But when I think of my subway experiences in Shanghai, Nanjing and Hong Kong, it was the same deal. Lots of walking done long corridors and tunnels on account of the subway. In the present case, I will have to walk five minutes from school to get on the train and then twenty minutes after I get off.

  • For the first time, this morning, I took the subway to school. I took the 602 bus to the stop nearest the Yanqiao subway stop and walked for five minutes – why isn't there a bus that stops right by the station? Where is the shuttle bus someone told me about?

  • I was looking forward to the ride because it was to be in daylight and because I could see from a new above perspective, the area of Wuxi I had, for five years, been riding through by bus.

  • What I saw from the train was sobering. The opening of the subway and my being able to take it to work has been exhilarating for me. But looking out from the train on the portion of the route is above ground, I was struck by how so much of Wuxi is undeveloped. I saw old factories, on the verge of tumbling or being torn down, and many, many empty fields.

  • I got off at the Sanyang Plaza stop. A big place and it took me a few minutes to determine what was the right exit, and a few minutes then to get to it and through it. The place seemed like it was being underutilized. I also noticed a security guard inspecting a spot where water had leaked.

  • I took a lot video while on the train. Tony is jealous of my having been on it. I had promised to take some video for him and he held me to that promise last night. However, I wasn't able to take video because it was dark. This morning, I took about eight minutes of it which should satisfy Tony greatly when I see him tonight.

Friday [July 4]

[School Laptop]

  • As I would tell the students, it is America's national day today. In Canada, we would say it is the fourth of July holiday in the States. In America, they also would say the same or maybe call it Independence day. They would never call it America Day. [The fact that we Canadians call our national holiday Canada Day gets my craw, as I believe the expression goes. It used to be officially known as Dominion Day and is still referred to as such by Canadians patriots who loved the Canada that existed before the 1960s.]

  • Today's shift: 11:00 to 21:00.

  • I am still enthralled by the novelty of taking the train to work so I haven't been studying my Chinese as much as I should if I ever want to be able to use it.

  • David Warren is stopping the publishing of comments on his website. He had many good reasons to do so like it took up too much of his time. I can only envy the fact that he has such problems. I have had maybe 10 comments on my blog this year, and the only one I ever had was so rancid that I had to block him [or her].

  • Tony will get his first chance to ride the subway this afternoon. Jenny will take him. Last night, he watched the video I had taken of the subway and said he wanted to ride.

Saturday [July 5]

[School Laptop]

  • Today's shift: 10:00 to 18:00.

  • Raining heavily outside.

  • I took the train home last night. Not so many people at the station as there had been on the previous nights. This can be attributed to the rain.

  • Embarrassing moment yesterday at the Cummins company. I was doing an off-site gig for the school: a business presentation class where I get to evaluate presentations done by the students. At the end of the students presentations, I had to make a “perfect” presentation for the students. I decided to talk about how it was that I came to be in Wuxi and why it was that I was in my tenth year of living in Wuxi. I had what I thought was a stirring start. Fifteen years ago, I told the class, if you had told me that I would be spending ten years of my life in a place called Wuxi, China I would have said you were crazy. I hadn't heard of the place and couldn't pronounce its name correctly. I then went into the things that happened so that I came to be in Wuxi. At the end of the speech I made mention of my father and I was overcome with emotion that I started to cry. I couldn't hold back the tears and I was so embarrassed...

  • The topic of last night's English Corner was the USA since it was fourth of July. Asking what the students didn't like about America, they told me they didn't like American foreign policy. What did they love about America? A lot of the students said technology and Hollywood movies.

  • I also asked the students if they preferred America to Japan, then to Russia, then to England, and finally to Germany. America was preferred in every pairing but the last.

  • I ended the Corner by asking the students if they preferred the idea of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to peace, order and good government. All the students choose the former. One student did say if he was older, hence more mature, he would prefer the latter.

Sunday [July 6]

[School Laptop]

  • My shift today: 10:00 to 18:00.

  • Someone made a comment on my blog! It wasn't at all favorable but it was a comment nonetheless and I am grateful to get it.

  • I took the train to work this morning and meet up with a foreigner who works at a high school near Casa Kaulins. So far, I have seen three foreigners at or around the Yanqiao Subway station.

  • Jenny kaiboshed my plan to take Tony to school this morning. It is probably just as well because Tony would have spent his time, while I was in class, playing computer games.

  • I saw the one goal that was scored in the two WC quarterfinal matches played early this morning. I saw Argentina score the only goal they needed early in their match against Belgium. As the first half came to an end, I went to sleep. When I woke up, I expected to read the final results of the Holland – Costa Rica match but was pleasantly surprised to see the game was not finished. I caught the end of the extra time portion of the scoreless match, and I was disappointed to see Holland prevail on penalty kicks.

  • They say that penalty kicks are a cruel way to decide a big WC match. I say that a football or soccer match itself, without the penalty kicks, is a cruel way to decide a WC match. It seems that football or soccer rarely awards offensive initiative.

  • Yesterday, I got off the train at Yanqiao and was waved at by a foreigner who was going to catch a train. I walked for fifteen minutes and meet Jenny at the Wanda Plaza where we had supper. We first had to wait for a driver to pick up Tony and take him to his taekwando class. As I waited, I felt numb all over. I couldn't control my body movements fully. I had the shakes. I was feeling like an old man. [I wonder if it explains my getting emotional at Cummins.]

Monday [July 7]

[Home Laptop]

  • No shift today so I got to spend a day with Tony.

  • Last night, after work, I met Jenny & Tony at the Ba Bai Ban toy department. I bought Tony monster number 10 from the Baidan Ultraman figurine collection. The three of us then went to a restaurant near the school, Baishilo is its name, for supper. We then took the subway home. It would have been the first time that the three of us were together on the Wuxi Metro but we got separated as we got to the platform where the train was parked with doors open, just about to leave. Stupidly, I rushed with Tony to a door leaving Jenny behind. Jenny got our of our sight. Not seeing her, Tony didn't want to get on the train. But she in fact had gotten on the train through a door that was behind a pillar from our vantage point. I knew she had but I didn't want to argue with Tony. As the doors closed and the train sped off, I phoned Jenny and found out that she had gotten on the train. So, Tony and I met her at the Yanqiao station. The next train was only eight minutes behind hers.

  • This morning, Tony & I left Casa Kaulins at ten o'clock and took the train to Taihu Square which is two stops past Nanchan Temple station. Getting out of the station it seemed that I had made a mistake in choosing to take Tony to Taihu Square. Looking around, I saw that we were not close to anything and the area was still under construction. There were no pedestrian crossings. There was lots of rubble and temporary construction barriers. After ten minutes of walking, which was making me sweat, we came upon the Wuxi Museum Building.

  • I will have to go to the museum by myself. Tony was either insistently not interested or hopping around the exhibits excitedly like he was a jumping bean. I spent half my time trying to chase him and the other half bickering with him about going to an exhibit.

  • What I did see at the museum was enough to make me say to any of my rare readers, who do happen to be in Wuxi, that the place is worth a one hour visit. The first floor displays and dioramas of Wuxi history seemed interesting, as did the fourth floor revolutionary displays. I say “seemed” because Tony wouldn't let me spend the time to look at anything in detail. On the fourth floor, he cried because he didn't want to look at the revolutionary displays. Maybe, he has a healthy and natural aversion to Leftism and Communism but I suspect that his real motivation was that he wanted me to take him to a toy store. I had to carry him around in order to look at the fourth floor displays. I shouldn't be carrying a six year old around but in some ways Tony is reverting to his three year old habits.

  • At the museum gift shop, I bought a deck of playing cards depicting images of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. A kind of gruesome souvenir, I know.

  • From the museum we walked to the nearby Taihu Square where there were children driving miniature toy cars around. There was no way that I was going to go pass this without Tony protesting. So for a hour, which set me back 20 rmb, Tony got to drive a motorcycle and then a car around. For the first half hour, he did so while there were four other boys around. This let to predictable trouble as Tony and the other boys started crashing into each other with their vehicles. Mothers of the other boys started screaming, perhaps at Tony, perhaps at the other boys, and Tony was in tears saying that an other boy was crashing into him. This wasn't quite true because I did see Tony crashing into other boys on purpose as well. Tony behaves awfully when there are other children around. But I wonder how much Tony is assaulted by other children because he is of mixed blood. The second half hour was bliss though because the other boys left and Tony was able to drive the square by himself, without being molested or molesting other boy drivers.

  • Despite crying at one point, Tony was more angry when I told him his time was up. I told him we would go back one day. Though not a weekend if I can help it. The thought of him driving a car around that square with so many other children makes a weekday the best time to return.

  • We took the train and then walked to the Burger King at Nanchan Jie Bar Street. Tony said he was tired and insisted on my carrying him, which I did against my better judgment. I couldn't carry him the whole way and he didn't seemed to be swayed by my insisting that I was tired as well.

  • I assumed that Burger King accepted payment by credit card. But to be sure I made a point of pulling out the credit card from my wallet before I ordered. The credit card didn't slide out easily from the wallet slot it was in and I had to struggle to get it out. And thinking that the manager and the clerk were looking at me, made it all the more difficult to pull it out. But when I did, I felt assured that they would take payment by credit card. I then had to struggle to get them to understand my order. I wanted a Whopper with drink and fries, another drink for Tony as well as chicken nuggets. [There always seems to be confusion anytime I order an additional drink along with a meal deal.] Having got the order correct, I gave them my credit card to pay and was told that they didn't take payment by card, only cash. I phoned Jenny and asked if I could withdraw money using the credit card from an ATM. She said it would be awfully expensive. So, I decided that Tony & I were going to have to eat somewhere else. I first thought to go to another restaurant in the area but eventually decided to go back to the Hui Shan District and get something to eat at the Wanda Plaza.

  • I was tired and annoyed as I walked back to Nanchan Temple Subway station. Tony wanted to be carried, I was sweating profusely in the hot Wuxi summertime sun, and I fumed at the stupidity of the Burger King staff who surely must have seen me pull a credit card out of my wallet right under their noses before I made the order. Not that ultimately would have made my mood better, but my hopes had been raised when they shouldn't have been.

  • And then we got to the entrance of the Nanchan Temple station where I saw a child, four or five years old, his pants down to his ankles, pissing at the top of the stairs at a spot that was very high traffic. Thirty or forty people had to walk around the child as he pissed. His mother was very annoyed at him but the kid didn't seem to care and then decided to dance and try to spray his mother's leg and feet. I hope his mother beat him to a pulp. While the mother is not entirely to blame for what happened, she probably had let the child piss in public as a habit.

  • Seeing children piss or shit in public is such a common thing in Wuxi that I rarely make mention of it in this blog anymore. This pissing incident rates mention, however, because of the location of it and the child's audacious behavior. I would say it was one of the top four public bathroom incidents I have ever witnessed in Wuxi. [The other three were a child being made by its mother to piss on the floor in the vegetable section of Auchan Supermarket, a child shitting like a cannon as it was being held in its mother's arms, and a boy shitting in full view of everyone who walked past the restaurant that his parents owned.]

  • Tony and I ended up having a bucket at the Wanda Plaza KFC.

  • In the evening, Tony & I came home and discovered that we had gotten sunburned during the day.

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