CHINA JOURNAL---MONDAY, MARCH 11 AND TUESDAY, March 12, 2002
One of the sounds that is hard for the Chinese to make is the short I sound ( as in pit, bit); it comes out more like the long E sound ( as in feet, greet). One of the stories in the third grade book is about 12 lizards sitting on a log. The whole room of little third graders beautifully imitate their teacher saying ³lee-zards.² It has become an office joke. Renhai Ying was reprimanding a third grade boy for being lee-zard. When he left I asked her what she was calling him. She had been trying to find the word ³lazy.²
Yesterday, after I had already purchased three types of Chinese herbal medicine and taking her molasses cough syrup, Fu Ling insisted that I go down and see the school doctor about my cough. I figure I had already seen a Chinese doctor, but there is no sense in arguing so I dutifully went down stairs. A very nice woman doctor was there with shelves lined with various Chinese cures. She used a stethoscope rather than feeling my wrists so I figure I had two types of opinions. She agreed that nothing was basically wrong and that the medicine the clinic had described was very good. She also had the third herb which the clinic was out of so I got that too. The pills are all so interesting that I lined them up and took a photograph. One of the four is a normal looking capsule. How boring. However, two of them are little round bullets the size of a dried pea. One kind is black and the other is brown. You take fifteen at a time. At that size they are much easier than big American horse pills to take. I love the little herb that I got from the school doctor. It came in a flat little box which looked quite normal. Inside are two tiny violin shaped ceramic pill bottles with Chinese writing on them. Each little bottle holds 30 tiny round pills the size of seed pearls. They smell and taste like Vicks vapo-rub as they go down.
Last night before going to bed, Fu Ling looked at my schedule and said that Jian Goa, the driver, would pick me up right after class at 3:30 to go to the office to get measured for a jacket. I said I would like that but I wanted to be paying for it. Fu Ling insisted it was to be her gift because I remind her of her mother. So today at 3:30, Jian Goa picked me up. We drove at least a half an hour, ending up winding in and out of some little crowded streets. He had to ask directions one time. We parked in front of a driveway and paid someone for the privilege. Jian Goa walked me into a nondescript entrance. Inside was a huge warehouse showroom for fabrics. There must have been several hundred merchants, each with about eight feet of counter space. All types of materials were carefully laid out. We stood at the door. Pretty soon Pu Yan Ling, from the lantern night adventure, came walking up to escort us to where Fu Ling and Li Jia Ling, the former trade officer director, were looking at materials. The three ladies were taking me shopping. After choosing a lovely, floral red brocade, we then walked quite a long way to the stand where a lady takes your measurements and finds out what style you want. Iım not sure whether she personally does the sewing or farms it out. I suspect the latter. They take so many measurements that it gives lots of directions to a seamstress.
From there Jian Goa dropped off the two ladies and took Fu Ling and me back to the office. There was a new employee, Li Di (another rare name that will be easy to remember.) He graduated from Nankai Medical School but was always more interested in English so he is working as an English writer and interpreter. He is quite tall and was probably a nerd in school but just as nice, earnest, and slow spoken as could be. You can tell he is mentally translating everything. He was very nervous about meeting me. We sat and talked. I told him I would be happy to help him with any of his writing. He was delighted and got right up to show me his latest. It was a translation of a PR letter which Sun Zhi Hong and the directors wrote. Iım not sure what the Chinese sounded like, but his English translation started out with a sentence that was fifteen lines long, the introductory parts taking up the first eight lines. He was totally buffaloed as to how to go about simplifying it, so we worked our way through it together and ended up with four, still long sentences. I can see where he is going to be another project.
Before we left, Sun Zhi Hong had him translate that tomorrow we would go meet with the Nankai area district research office who would like me to teach their public school English teachers from 8:00 to 12:00 every Wednesday morning. That is a long time to focus on a foreign language with beginners, which is what I anticipate they will be, unless you are meeting with them daily for immersion. Tomorrow afternoon we will talk and decide how many I can work with. New challenge.
We arrived home at 7:00 for a two hour tutoring session with Zhang Yu and Zhang Jie, with dinner tucked into the middle. Big day.