This is an unusually long update. I got a little carried away. And sorry for the lack of pictures this week. I don’t want to use Flickr search images for the personal entries.
After four months of eating till I passed out and drinking a beer nearly with every meal, it has finally caught up to me. I’ve gained weight. If I were to eat in the same quantity back at home, I would have gained weight within the first month. Weird because it doesn’t seem healthier from the amount of salt, sauces, and fried foods. I’m guessing it could be the large amount of vegetables that come with every meal that makes me over eating not as bad. I need to be more active and control myself. It’s just that CHINESE FOOD TASTES SO GOOD!
To counteract my obsession with Chinese food, I need to be more active. There have been days of locking myself in my apartment simply working on this blog. It’s not healthy. Since I live in a university campus, there’s just about every sport within a two minute walking distance. I got invited to play tennis with some friends and I enjoyed it so much that I kept going. Last time I tried playing was about 10 years ago so I suck but nevertheless fun. I also enjoy playing ping-pong and I’m hoping to pick up playing soccer again soon as well. Great way to learn and practice Mandarin.
Observation of the Chinese people
It was an exhausting week and it’s been an exhausting semester teaching. It was time for a big night out in the city since it has been awhile. Along with some other friends, we go to a popular expat bar called Vice Versa that has recently opened. Upper middle class and rich Chinese like to hang out here as well. It’s not a fancy place at all but the atmosphere is great and since there are so many foreigners, the Chinese will come to practice English and hang out with the foreigners. A few hours into the night, I’m sitting at the bar talking to a friend behind the bar when a Chinese man comes up next to me and introduces himself. I didn’t catch his name because of the music but he seemed like a nice guy with his high enthusiasm as we clinked beer bottles and say cheers. For the sake of the story, we will call him Mr. Song.
In the past four months, I cannot count how many people have given me Chinese culture lessons and this guy was doing just that. Mr. Song explains that before nearly every sip out of the beer bottle, you must show respect by taping each others bottles. It is to show the person you are cheering is important to you. I knew this already and we clink along. A minute later I take a sip on my own and he gives me a blank stare. I forgot about the rules. I apologized and try to raise my bottle to make up for it. He jokingly hesitates but then we tap and take big chug.
“Michael, do you like Friends? You know, the TV show.”
I am not at all surprised that he has seen this. The series is globally known and this is not the first time I’ve heard this question. “Yeah. I don’t watch it but it’s funny.”
“I have question. Is real American life?”
“Not really. Maybe the background stuff is though.”
“I think real American life,” Mr. Song says in shock and disagreement. “I have all ten seasons. That is how I learn English. How about the show Lie To Me?”
“No, I haven’t seen it.”
“It’s show about body language. I can tell when you lie to me, when you upset, or about your character. I seen two seasons in two days. I watch, drink, and sleep then repeat,” he says with a laugh. “So Michael, What do you do in China?”
“I’m an English teacher at a private University. It hasn’t been that great lately though, my students are generally lazy. I think it’s because it’s a private school instead of a better public school. They just don’t care about learning English.”
Mr. Song puts on a straight face and says “Do you know why? I tell you why. You are bad teacher.” My mood instantly changes and he continues “All you care about is money.” That right there basically shut me up from continuing any sort of conversation with Mr. Song. He tries to keep the conversation going but he notices my mood change, “Michael, I can tell you look upset. I can tell because I saw Lie To Me. I’m sorry. I don’t want to argue with you.” he says while keeping his straight face. “Don’t worry, it’s okay. Listen, I better get going.” and I took off. I got in a taxi and began to think what happened in that conversation. I offended him and didn’t even realize it but he did notice my mood change quickly and I doubt it was because of a TV show.
A few hours earlier, I met up with an old friend Adam at the bar. I’m also with two other foreign teachers, Tom and Lauren, and we began having small talk. Within five minutes of the conversation, Adam says “I really hope you can join in on our conversation Lauren.” She’s generally a quite person but what got my attention was how quickly Adam could sense that without knowing her prior to five minutes ago how she is a quiet person.
I invited Allen that night if he wanted to play pool, a student here that I only met once before. I was playing horribly, was still sick, and was not in a great mood but I did my best to just have fun that night. After pool and sitting in my apartment, Allen text messages me and says “Michael, how are you? I have felt you were uneasy tonight. Is it because of me? I want to say sorry to you. You are kind and a good man.” This was the first time I ever hung out with Allen outside of the school and he observed my character and personality.
Two weeks ago I went to Karaoke with a few students that have become good friends. I invited Melody and she says:
“Michael, you are getting fat! You like Chinese food very much!” She laughs.
“I’m fat? Well, that’s not very nice.”
I’m told that I shouldn’t take it offensive. The quick observation in appearance and comments means they notice things that are only told between friends. Unless I’m easily expressive in my emotions, I get a feeling the Chinese have a quick observation in a persons personality and character.