Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Getting Started

I am sitting at this incredibly old, grotty computer - just now I pressed the "enter" key and it stuck and the cursor went spinning down the page before I could unstick it ...

Talk of sticking, my wrists are sticking to the desk, I'm so hot and sweaty.

But we are having lots of fun.

There was the "Opening Ceremony" for the college this morning, for the new semester. We were introduced, lots of things were said about us in Chinese and they all clapped. Then we sat down on these little stools behind a bench thing covered with red velvet. My stool was rotten (I noticed later) and almost collapsed - I managed to catch myself, and also not to giggle openly, which would have been most inappropriate!

I love the vehicles. They remind me of movies like Mad Max or Waterworld.

Yesterday we saw one that looked like a modified lawn mower or rotary hoe (with two wheels and a handle reaching back) being driven by a guy sitting on a trailer that was being towed by it. There are little blue three-wheeled trucks everywhere, like trucks with only one wheel at the front, and carrying heavy loads of bricks or sand, and making a loud slow deep "put-put" noise.

The little motor-bike taxis are fun to travel in - the back half of the motorbike is a little trailer that can seat up to about six people.

Its not all just fun you know - I had to do some work today. I had to teach two lessons with one class ... that's it for today. Its very hot and humid today, and for some reason the air conditioners in the college itself are off (we still have air conditioning in our unit) - don't know if they are broken - it doesn't seem likely because each room has its own split-system unit - or they have been turned off to save money. So the poor "kids" (teenagers) keep falling asleep at their desks.

(Yes, he is genuinely fast asleep - he was amazed when I showed him the photo later!)

They have no qualms about putting their heads down for a sleep because they can't be bothered to try to listen any more. Even when I make the lesson a real interesting one, they are just too hot and tired.

We went out to a restaurant last night, right here in this complex that our college is part of. Just a few of the teachers went; paid for by a traveling teacher-person from Adelaide (she has some sort of special organizing job.) We five were the only ones in the restaurant; there were lots of staff around. And they didn't have any rice and very few other dishes because we hadn't warned them we were coming.

There are two Canadians teaching here. A chap who lives upstairs from us, and a funny little lady who mutters to herself a lot (after being in China 'alone' for 9 years). Downstairs there is supposed to be a Filipina lady, but she seems to have "done a runner" and not shown up this term. Also downstairs is the Sri Lanka guy who does the computers. Last night he fixed up this computer in our apartment with an ASDL (?) connection. Brilliant!

We are told there are about 280 foreigners in Zhengzhou (a city of about 5 million). I guess that's why people walk down the street just to stand in front of us and have a really good stare.

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