CHINA JOURNAL---Saturday, June 8, 2002
This is a bunch of isolated, oddball miscellany
that I have thought of. Some may be old information, but I don't have to time
to go back and check on all of it. Enjoy the tidbits.
- The piano teacher at Bohan primary is a tall
sturdy woman who speaks very little English, but obviously enough to cover
the situation. The piano practice rooms are totally enclosed...no windows,
no fresh air, no fan, no air coolers. On one very hot evening she had been
enclosed in those rooms for quite awhile. She suddenly burst out, mopping
her brow, and, as she walked past me, muttered, ``Damn hot''.
- As the hot weather has arrived, the female
bike riders have burst forth with their sun hats...not the practical old golfing
type that we have, but garden party sun hats with flowers and veils, etc.
They look great!
- The pi jian, sun capes, the ladies wear on
the bikes are open all the way to the wrist. Great air circulation.
- Shoveling noodles into one's mouth prevents
splattering one's blouse when slurping them up from a farther distance.
- Chinese women make up their faces to shine,
while American women put powder on so their noses don't shine.
- There are three favorite little girl hairdos.
On the toddlers, the hair is gathered on top with a rubber band so a pony
tail fountain goes straight up in the air. A little older and two ponytails
go out to the side, one over each ear. The third is the little boy style
haircut, with two barrettes in front.
- There are a few signal lights that let you
know exactly how much time is left. They can be horizontal or vertical.
The green (or red) light is a wide bar. After a few seconds a break in the
bar appears dividing it into 1/3 and 2/3. Then the 2/3 part keeps getting
shorter and shorter. As a driver, you know that when the 2/3 part is completely
gone, the light will change. It lets you judge when to ``go for it'' and when
to hold back. In Nanjing it actually displays the count of how much time
- Some English words that we laughed over because
they were confusing were KITCHEN-CHICKEN and ANGRY-HUNGRY. When I was trying
to pay for something, Zhang Jie said, ``My mother will be very hungry.'' So
we started to say after eating that we weren't ``angry'' anymore.
- The man who develops my photographs apparently
hangs each one with a pin. At any rate there is a small pin hole at the
corner of every photo.
- Instead of the push-pull sink drain stoppers
we have, the Chinese have a swivel drain that rotates in two directions.
Just a push and the drain is open or closed.
- When the weather warmed up, the old ladies
began to appear every morning in the park. These are the ladies in their
80s and 90s who walk over and sit on the park benches to talk.
- Book racks on the back of bikes are given
double and triple supports because they so often hold an extra rider. Extra
riders just easily perch there, usually without hanging on.
- Instead of being thought of as a weed, clover
is used as a deliberate flower bearing ground cover and looks great.
- Heavy string mops come in one size. If you
need a bigger mop, you hold two of them together.
- There are not very many birds in the city,
but as you walk among the apartment buildings you hear the birds singing.
Many are kept in cages on the outside porches. They are taken for walks
or bike rides by their masters. If it is a bike ride, their cage is covered.
Zhang Jie tells of the old men going for walks fingering exercise balls
in one hand and holding their bird cage in the other.
- People walk around with their lexan drinking
bottles or have them sitting on their desks. All sorts of odd-looking plants
and seeds grow or expand in them. You drink this for the health.
- One variety of street cleaners has the job
of sweeping up papers and little trash. They walk around with their broom
in one hand and their trash collector in the other. The trash collecter
is like a long handled dustpan which swivels down flat when you stop. When
you walk again, it closes and has little wheels so it never has to be carried.
- The Chinese have probably had their babies
running around with slit pants and bare bottoms for centuries but I wouldn't
want my bare bottom either exposed to the cold or sitting in the dirt. When
the toddler looks like it wants to go to the bathroom, the parent squats
and, resting their arms on their thighs, cradles the toddler so its back
is against the parent's chest and its knees are supported by the parent's
arms. This holds the toddler in a perfect squat position and away they go.
I've seen parents put a piece of newspaper down on the ground for the child
to squat on, and I've seen them clean up the poop with newspaper as if you
were cleaning up after a puppy dog. I had seen little red satin, embroidered
bibs in the stores but didn't know what they were. It turns out it is like
an abbreviated sunsuit which covers only the tummy and chest...leaving the
bottom and back bare.
- Money drawers are just that. Bills are tossed
haphazardly into a money drawer. If you need to give a customer change you
just rummage around in the drawer. People tend to treat their bills the
same way...just a big wad.
- I have never witnessed an animal being mistreated
in China. (Caging little Easter bunnies is a different situation.)
- Kentucky Fried Chicken is called Ken De Ji.
This is the closest they can get to Kentucky with Chinese characters.
- The official brochures for Sanxia, the three
gorges, make a point of saying ``its scene will be not changed at all'' after
the gorges are flooded. It goes on to say it will be more beautiful!