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.

  1. 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 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''.
  1. 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!
  1. The pi jian, sun capes, the ladies wear on the bikes are open all the way to the wrist. Great air circulation.
  1. Shoveling noodles into one's mouth prevents splattering one's blouse when slurping them up from a farther distance.
  1. Chinese women make up their faces to shine, while American women put powder on so their noses don't shine.
  1. 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.
  1. 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 is left.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Instead of being thought of as a weed, clover is used as a deliberate flower bearing ground cover and looks great.
  1. Heavy string mops come in one size. If you need a bigger mop, you hold two of them together.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. I have never witnessed an animal being mistreated in China. (Caging little Easter bunnies is a different situation.)
  1. Kentucky Fried Chicken is called Ken De Ji. This is the closest they can get to Kentucky with Chinese characters.
  1. 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!