Tour of a Chinese house

5 06 2010

I don’t actually want to devote a whole blog to it, but here are some photos from the apartment where we made jiaozi. I also want to add that Missy and I are fighting over the proper pronunciation clues for jiaozi. She says Geeow-ztah, I say Gee- (as in “Gee Willikers”) Oww-
Dzuh. You may pick whichever you wish, though I routinely have people tell me “Ni de zhongwen bucuo” after I order Chinese food. But don’t let that sway you. Too much.

Chinese living room. Looks more or less like a Western one, doesn’t it? Except cheaper.

In this particular house, they had a flat screen TV in every room. Not bad for two teachers’ salaries, eh?

You may have noticed the wedding photo in the background. They love weddings in China. As a side note, when our host saw that I had a camera out, she turned all the lights on in the whole house so as to facilitate picture-taking. No joke. Here is a picture of me watching our lone English channel, CCTV 9, or as I like to call it, “The Boringest TV Channel Ever.”

One more picture. The girl on the left was our gracious host.



Missy and Jeremiah’s Magical Chinese Moments, Part yi

13 09 2009

So we thought, after I had devoted such a large chunk of the blog to quirky Chinese driving, their love for Jon Bon Jovi or questionable coffee, that we should have a part of the blog detailing all the really fine quintessentially Chinese interactions we have with people here. Hence the first Missy and Jeremiah’s Magical Chinese Moments post. Yi means one, for those who don’t know Mandarin.
Tonight I headed home alone on the bus after a failed attempt at watching the first match of the Second City Derby between Aston Villa and Birmingham City (which Villa won on an 85th minute Gabriel Agbonlahor goal, incidentally). Missy left early as I needed to stop off at the dorm to check the score of the match and pick up a few items we had left there earlier.
So I got on the bus and it was relatively empty, as the 24 (Er shi si – pronounced ERR-SURE-SIRRRR for those who don’t know Mandarin) often is at night. I sat up front, across from a young couple. The guy was staring, which is not unusual in China, and I wouldn’t even really call unpleasant, because everyone does it, and it’s rarely done with any kind of malice, so it ceases to bother you after a certain point. Anyway, he kept staring, occasionally stopping to tell his girlfriend something, and they’d both giggle. He also kept making motions of a beard or moustache. So after a certain point, I was starting to get annoyed. Alright buddy, I’m a (still moderately, despite all the walking) fat American with a big beard, I get it – I’m sorry you can’t grow one, but that’s life. But right when I felt I would glare at him a bit, he opens his bag, pulls out two Cokes and holds one across the walkway, offering it to me. I shrugged and took it, thanked him (Xiexie – pronounced roughly like TSAY-TSAY – for those who don’t know Mandarin. Your response would be bukushi, which sounds sort of like BOO-KUTCH) and took a drink. So we ended up having a conversation for about half of the bus ride. I can’t remember his name. It was something starting with Ma, as a lot of Chinese names here seem to. Anyway, both he and his girlfriend were students at the Nanjing Forestry School, which is a decent (so far as I’ve heard) school on the bus route. He asked if I had eaten dinner, because both he and his girlfriend were headed somewhere to eat dinner. I already had, but I thanked him for the offer. We talked more, and it turned out that his girlfriend, who hadn’t spoken English at all for most of the trip, just giggled, spoke better English than he did. His English was mediocre at best, but I appreciate the fact he was trying to hold a conversation with me. I told him I worked at the Nanjing Foreign Language School, and he was impressed, as people here invariably are. In the end, we chatted a bit more about the forestry school, and his plans for after – most likely something in the architecture vein, and I wished both of them a nice dinner before they got off the bus. So after a rough first impression, he was nice, as Chinese people often are. We have experienced very little outright hostility here. People are often curious – sometimes to the point of almost wrecking their vehicle to get a better look – but most people have been friendly, or even excited to talk to us and even have a little bit of interaction with a Westerner. We also had a couple young girls – probably 10 or 11 years old – who saw us struggling to order a tea/coffee/fruit drink at one of the many stands here and came back to help us order, then, when we left, said “We hope you enjoy your stay in China” in pretty serviceable English. Considering the amount of warnings we had received about people calling us laowai (Pronounced LOU –like loud minus the d – WHY, slang for foreigner) and being generally unpleasant, it just hasn’t happened here. Maybe it’s just Nanjing, but until we go somewhere where the experience is different, I’ll have nothing but kind words to say, as long as they aren’t behind the wheel or in the DJ booth.

Jeremiah and Missy meet JM and Liz

12 09 2009

So I know all of you, our dedicated blog followers, are probably wondering what happened the other day when we met JM and Liz, the couple with the small boy who we found on a blog and agreed to actually meet in person. This was Wednesday, by the way. So I had talked to JM (Short for John-Michael) a couple times via email, and we set up Wednesday as the day to meet. Because he teaches Wednesday evening, and their son Leo isn’t a night owl, we agreed on 5 pm at the Hunan Lu sign. Missy has class until 5:30, but she said she’d just take a taxi to Hunan Lu (the main restaurant street in Nanjing) after she got out of class. So I took the bus to the metro stop and then caught the metro down to Hunan Lu. I was a bit early in hopes of getting a 30 RMB coffee at Starbucks, but Liz and Leo showed up before I was able to spot a Starbucks. When she got there, we chatted briefly, then she told me that JM was on the way down. He called shortly thereafter and announced that he was waiting at a different Hunan Lu sign, and not the giant gaudy one with a dragon we were waiting under. So Liz, Leo and I walked over to an area where a group of kids were playing, and he, being a ball of action, started racing around and trying to get into every restaurant he could find. Incidentally, Chinese people LOVE kids. I know everyone loves kids, but in China, all the grandparents dote over any kids in a really amazing way. You could drop off a random baby on any Chinese street, and if you drove back by 30 minutes later, I guarantee there would be 10 grandmas fighting over who got to let the baby ride on their shoulders until the parents showed up. JM showed up shortly thereafter, and after browsing the menu of a few different
restaurants, we decided on a Korean place and settled in to order some food.
Since we had met up and chatted, we didn’t really start eating until closer to 6, which gave Missy a chance to at least start to head down toward Hunan Lu, and she called soon to say she was almost there, and that she might not have enough money to pay the cab, so I ran outside to try and find her. But she was alright, and we returned to the restaurant and all sat around and chatted a bit and ate Korean food. The three of us, minus Missy, shared some beef and onions that were grilled, and we had two bowls of rice and vegetables. It was tasty, though perhaps not a huge, huge meal. After we finished eating, we all walked out, and JM had to leave to go teach a class, so Liz left as well, and Missy and I had ice cream cones at McDonalds.
So how were JM and Liz, you ask? Well, really nice, actually. They got back into Nanjing (they are working on their second year here) on the same day we got in, and they said they were struggling with
re-adjusting to life in China. JM is a teacher at a school here, and Liz is taking some Mandarin classes and taking care of Leo. Both of them speak better Mandarin than us, but that’s no shock really. They also offered, kindly, that we could call them if we ever needed help with anything. Something we will probably take them up on. But in a friendly way, of course.