Fine time with Fintan
After yesterday morning with JD in the hospital, we were delighted to meet up with Fintan - the son of friends of mine - who is travelling around China for the first time, and alone too! We picked him up for a dumpling lunch at our house, before heading for YuanTong Temple (the hundreds of turtles all seem to have gone) followed by people-watching (and JD boat driving) on Green Lake. It was a lovely, sunny day and great to get to know Fintan better. After a "Cross-the-bridge-noodles" dinner, we parted company, although a goodbye meal later today is planned before he heads off on his onward journey.
With JD racking up a whole heap of symptoms (fever, eye discharge, runny nose, cough, spots on arm, earache, tiredness, etc) it seemed to make sense to get him checked out at the hospital today. As usual, we jumped the queues with the help of our medical friend and the doctor diagnosed conjunctivitis and bronchitis. The first was a no-brainer, but I hadn't figured on a bronchial infection. So multiple boxes of medicine later, we headed home. JD seems full of energy however, unlike myself, despite very little sleep last night.
Practicing too long
For the last month, JD's Kindergarten class have been practising a complicated Ethnic Minority dance involving students and parents. With Jiajia being away fairly frequently, I got volunteered to participate and attend the dozen or so practices so far. JD got his dancing clothes through the other day, but they were far too big [see left] so Ma-in-law got her needles out and resized them all [see right]. My clothes were so small I couldn't get them on, so they have gone back to be changed. The performance is early June, apparently.
Pirates of the Caribbean
I was sent this photo the other day by a friend I worked with decades ago. He'd recently found it in a drawer. We think it was taken on a corporate day trip on a yacht sponsored by "Computacenter", with whom we were doing a lot of business at the time. That must have been in late 1991. I was slimmer then, it seems, with more hair, only one chin and a very weird grin! The same yacht was apparently sailed to the Caribbean the following year where it was attacked by pirates with one of the crew killed. Really. No joke.
Fun, food and friends
Last Sunday was a terrific day spent with four of JD's classmates and their parents. We all met at the Kunming Botanical Gardens which was surprisingly quiet and spacious. Everyone had brought picnic food, which we shared, and one family had a small tent which the kids loved. The weather was warm, with a cool breeze. We had expected to stay a couple of hours but finally left after six! Lovely trip.
[As we left, Jiajia fell clean through a drainage grill in the road, badly scraping and bruising her left leg up to the knee. Karma, anyone?]
That's the point
This is what happens when your darling wife leaves a scraping tool, razor blade up, at the back of a shelf of tools. Rummaging around for a pump to inflate JD's ball, I took out my hand to find my index finger spurting out blood! Three days later, I don't need a band aid any more, but you wouldn't believe how often you use that pointy finger on your right hand throughout every day.
JD's Kindergarten don't seem to plan things very far ahead. We often get SMS messages late in the day telling us to provide something for the following morning. Yesterday evening we received a text message at 8pm instructing us to "experiment with our child to find out whether eggs float in water", and then provide photographic evidence this morning to show the results. We had to drag JD out of bed and fake a couple of photos after which I spent an hour uploading them to the school website and creating a collage to hand in. As I passed it to the teacher this morning, I rather cheekily reminded her that Jiajia and I do both work full-time and in MY teaching job, I'm expected to plan my lessons at least a week in advance! She just laughed.
Crash bag wallop
This shop display made me smile the other day. A two metre high handbag embedded in a brick wall. Not sure what it says about the bags on sale in the store, but it caught my eye.
Snap to it
This is what happens when I ask my University students to copy notes from the board or write down the homework assignment or whatever. They casually lift up their phones and take a photo of it. No wonder so few of them can actually write a decent sentence!
This rather confusing sign tempted me into a photo. The Chinese is, apparently, somewhat clearer - telling the sink users that the tap is operated by lifting the handle ...like that's too complex to work out!!
Calming down and cheering up
For the first 40 minutes JD cried non-stop - so much so that the teacher told him she would send me home if he didn't calm down and cheer up. Cue a rather astonishing transformation from JD who instantly managed to get a grip and show just what he's made of. He was first to volunteer to give a talk about "My Mum" up the front of the class [see photo, left], served all the other students with their snacks and lunch, took part in my mini English lesson and led the class in dancing [see photo, right]. I've only ever seen him be sullen and stand still during class dances before. And no tears as I said goodbye. Wow!
When I showed Ma-in-law the video of JD dancing for the first time she said that he was getting it all wrong and the teachers were not good dancers. Ma is an ex-professional Beijing Opera performer.... with a huge chip on her shoulder!
Last week, JD's kindergarten announced that every parent had to "volunteer" to help in class for two ½-days this term - not the meaning of "volunteer" that I have always understood. Jiajiapromptly left for Shenzhen on business, so I have found myself doing mornings yesterday and tomorrow (before my University classes kick back in next week). JD was a bit bewildered to see me hanging around (despite forewarning) but held it together for the first hour or so. Then it was all tears for an hour, before calming back down for my last hour.
The class had breakfast, did some craft, dancing, singing and then lunch, plus multiple toilet trips. Most of the time there was only one teacher in charge of the 30+ kids, which was a bit worrying, and a lot of the time the kids were just doing nothing between fairly dull activities. But I've seen worse. They suddenly asked me to do a short English activity towards the end. Unprepared, I just fell back on "Head and Shoulders". I'll have something more interesting up my sleeve for tomorrow, just in case.
iSad for iPad
When Jiajia bought me an iPad for my birthday some years ago I was grateful, but a bit bewildered. I hadn't asked for it, couldn't see much use for it and hated Apple anyway. Since then I've found it more and more useful (still hate Apple, mind you) and was a bit thrown when it suddenly stopped working the other day. Thankfully, a local repair centre managed to replace a burnt out component and it's now up and running again. What do I use it for? JD enjoys watching videos on it and playing some games. Jiajia does all her banking on it. I like to keep up with a dozen podcasts and sometimes for Skype/FaceTime. Recently, I've been using it to read "The Week" which I used to get delivered in paper form until China's postal service went into meltdown and nothing arrived. Now it's just slow download speeds which delay my news.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
Past blog entries