A friend of mine, Eve, left China for good yesterday after many years working here. But not before she sent on a couple of Chinglish signs she spotted on her recent trip to the east coast.
I remember when I was a child, you could buy "sweet cigarettes" in newsagents and pretend to be "grown up" by sucking on a fake cigarette. How times have changed. But here in China something similar is all the rage at the moment. These malt-based soft drinks [see photo], marketed at children, don't actually have any alcohol in them, but look and smell like the real thing. I've had two of my students drinking them in class, joking with me that they are bottles of beer. Thankfully, alcohol abuse is less of a problem in China than, say, Britain but it's still a pretty despicable ploy by the drinks company.
A brilliant Chinglish sign sent to me by a friend. Apparently the mistake stems from the first Chinese character in the word "Germany" also meaning "virtue". So it should read something like, "To eat is a blessing, to save money is a virtue".
Now this seems in ideal time for another "make up your own pun" title. We have "germans" and "eating" as themes.... and Simon R wins with his wartime pun. Congrats Simon!
At the risk of the blog becoming overly baby-centric, here's another update on 朱 品 修 's progress.
Approaching his fourth month, JD has more than doubled in weight, from 3 to 6.6kg (1 stone) and stands 62cm (2ft) in his favourite socks. He has a calm and increasingly cheeky personality with plenty of smiles and giggles.
We took him for his second vaccination jab again today (the first attempt last week was thwarted by flooding). Queueing amongst hordes of screaming Chinese babies (with their huge heads and patchy hair!) JD caused quite a stir with the nursing staff and other parents... "so cute!" and "so well-behaved!" being the favoured phrases from staff and strangers alike! He had a 5-second scream on being injected, but then settled quickly once again.
My 3-week summer holiday starts next week and Ava and I are bracing ourselves for 8 days without our Nanny (who deserves a holiday too!).
Kunming's been underwater for the last day or so. Technically, we are still amidst a four year drought (our tap water is still intermittent) but 12 solid hours of torrential rain, followed by persistent heavy showers, have totally overwhelmed the city's drainage (as usual for this time of year) and left large areas of the city with flooding. I know someone who risked driving into what she thought was shallow water, only to find her car floating, and then sinking. She quickly abandoned it and waded to higher ground.
We tried to drive JD to a scheduled vaccination today, but hit traffic at a complete standstill wherever we went. We saw two crashes within 500m of each other. Finally, when we arrived at a road with metre-deep water, we decided to call it a day and drove home.
Amusing photos of the flood have been appearing regularly on Ava's phone from her friends. One showed a canoe patrolling the High Street!
One of my students sent me this photo. He lives in a block of flats, and the "lake" below was formerly known as a car park!
But the one picture that made Ava and I laugh the most, was a photo of a sign being posted up around town by the local government. It tells citizens that the leaders are busy "rescuing people" and that the new sewers installed last year have done an "excellent" job. It goes on to state that sharing any pictures of the flood is now illegal since it "distracts from the image of the local government". Ooops!
We took JD for a swim the other day to the disturbingly-named, "Nipple Baby" shop! A similar place we tried before was pricey and quite far away. But this place is cheaper and closer, whilst still being clean and staffed with friendly, caring assistants. The visit starts with a few minutes playing with the baby to settle him down. Then he has his hair washed and he's undressed.
Next, the neck ring is attached, which doesn't seem to worry JD, and then he's floating in the warm water (it's crystal clear, despite the look in these photos!). Then JD pumps his arms up and down like a frog for his 15-20 minutes of "swimming" and seems to thoroughly enjoy it.
Jiajia and I have been blown away by the generosity of friends and family since JD's birth. Despite the multitude of things one has to buy for a new baby, we are only now beginning to dip in to the personal money we had saved up during the pregnancy. The biggest expense has been, and remains, the live-in nanny. But boy, is she worth it! With both Jiajia and I having extra work this month and Ma-in-law in hospital (for various imagined ills), we would be in dire straits were it not for our gallant nanny keeping the daily feeding, clothes washing, bathing and nappy changing routines going. Jiajia and I are hoping there will be more chance for us to play and bond with JD next month when we have a few week's holiday.
As ever, our term is ending with a period of doubled lessons. So, as well as the normal Friday to Saturday lessons (16 hours), I also have the same classes on Tuesday to Thursday (another 16 hours). Maybe 32 hours a week doesn't sound too much, but when you factor in marking, lesson preparation and covering classes for absent colleagues, it makes for a very busy week. Also very frustrating is the fact that not all of the usual students can come to all of the lessons [see "half class attendance" above] - some are still at school, some are on holiday, some are cramming for exams, etc. So you never know how many students you'll have, or who will need to catch up, or whether you can do an exam, or if the class will be cancelled five minutes after it starts. It throws my normally very ordered lesson preparation into chaos. After three weeks of such stress, we qualify for three weeks of "holiday". And I think I'll need it!
Today is JD's 100th day - a key day of celebration in China (presumably because the chance of an infant death after 100 days was considerably less in days gone by). Parents often have large parties for family and friends, but we've decided to keep it low key as everyone has already been so generous on the gift front and we didn't want people to feel obliged to give more (as they usually do on these occasions). Ava bought JD a new stroller however, and I made him (...err, bought him) a car-shaped cake. He's now "officially" allowed to get out and explore the wider world, so I hope to take him to my school soon so all the staff can finally have a prod and a cuddle.
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
Sometimes, experiences which happened before digital cameras became commonplace feel a little dreamlike. You can remember the bare bones of what happened, and there may be paper reminders of events, but who digs out photo albums these days? But this photo, from a trip into the Taklamakan desert in China's Xinjiang Province back in 1995 is a rather special one for me, so I recently took the trouble to digitise it and clean it up. Why special? Well that's me on the dune, top middle, after an exhausting "noonday sun" climb up!
Past blog entries