Friday, 31 July 2009

rest in peace Don Bradman (and, Qantas leaves Australian girl stranded in Beijing)

Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2001
From: Ceels
Subject: rest in peace Don Bradman (and, Qantas leaves Australian girl stranded in Beijing)

I was going to joyfully tell you that it is daily warmer and now feels quite like spring. Then, last night, the wind started. It howled and moaned and banged doors and banged the corrugated iron beneath my window. It sucks moisture out of the air and freezes skin and bone. In its defence it seems to have got rid of a large amount of the dirt and rubbish, but the noise! And already there is almost more noise in this city than there is dirt. If you have music, you play it loud. A horn, you lean on it. Cars don't have suspension and the brakes don't squeak they scream. I make two trips out to the boarding school each week and at an hour each way I estimate that I will be tone deaf by April and stone deaf by June.

So, something of my weekly routine? On Monday and Tuesday I teach from 8:40 to 3:15. On Wednesday and Thursday I leave for the boarding house (read: back of beyond) at seven am and return at about six pm. On Friday I have one class at 8:40 and two at 1:40.

Breakfast: I do myself. Lunch: as soon as I know what I'm eating, I’ll let you know. And dinner is usually lunch reheated. I would cook for my self, but so far it seems too much effort for too little result, what I eat doesn't seem very important. In England they did something magic to the food so that you could eat and eat and never feel full. In China they do some thing magic so that sometimes just looking makes you feel full. Add to that the amount of stairs in my life and lack of elevators/escalators and you can understand how I am half the woman I was (as a weight loss program, China could make millions)

The teachers are very nice, the students bow to me in the corridor and run riot in the classroom (no, that is not fair, the only truly horrible ones are in the two classes on Friday afternoon.) at lunch on Monday one of the teachers (whose name I do not know) asked me what I had planned for the weekend, and when I said nothing she told me that I was going to tutor her niece who is in Senior Two. She would tell me later in the week when and were. Naturally, I hid from her for the rest of the week. Unfortunately this means I have not talked to anyone else either. Oh well, lesson learned. In future if anyone asks me what I am doing on the weekend I say 'loads'.

Actually I don't know anyone's name. So I just smile and nod and smile and nod. It doesn't matter that I don't know any names, because I don't know any Chinese either.

Anyhoo, keep up the news, I have loved hearing about everything, even the bad things.

all my love

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

this email is yukky - you have been warned

Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001
From: Ceels
Subject: this email is yukky - you have been warned

I have something to say, and it regards food.

I will not eat the head or feet of any animal. I will not eat the digestive system of any animal. I will not eat anything that has fallen on the floor (this used not to be the case, but in china there are two factors that have strongly influenced my change of opinion. I used to believe that if you dropped a biscuit on the floor you could brush it off and eat it. in china people spit on the ground, and children use the ground as a toilet.

To expand:
- the spitting involves large amounts of phlegm (also known as snot) and sounds like this: hhhkkkarrrgg-phut. Or you can use the nostril technique, where one nostril is blocked and the snot expelled from the other nostril with force. It sounds like this: phirrrnt. If not enough force is exerted the result is a large goober (phlegm gob, booger) left hanging.
- most children don't wear nappies (enter split-pants syndrome) there is a long split in the crutch of their pants and when they need to go, they squat. Where nature calls, there nature is deposited.

I will not eat anything I recognise from lunch the day before (a hang-over from the boarding house). I will not eat melon that has been cooked (it's unnatural).
If I think of anything else, I will let you know

And remember, kids, you can poo in the streets but not in the train stations.