01.02.2013 - 02.02.2013 -5 °C
I've been dining with Judy every night, and Judy and Lynn on two of those, and I've got to them a little better. They are both in their 30s now and have noted to me that they are becoming more aware of the world around them. Obviously that's a given, it being a natural process as you get older, but is there is a certain degree of catch up at play. From what I recall we would often tease Judy because things would go over her head but I think we would tease and feel alienated by the Chinese in general, because their world view is comparatively simple and unschooled. The average person I meet here doesn't seem to grasp why they can't develop deep friendships with Westerners, certainly my students seem to think it's very straightforward, though they can't seem to get on with each other very well and have their cliques. However, as I said to Judy, I think friendship is based on commonalities between people, such as gender, age, culture, education and personal tastes. If you don't share any of these and aren't sexually attracted either, it can be a lot harder. Lynn thought that the two Daves have become distant because they've changed, but I think on balance they haven't changed, they have simply become more distant because they've became more distant geographically and developed lives outside Bayuquan. Being polite and nice to your co-workers and even caring about their welfare doesn't mean you really want to stay in touch on a long term basis, you will naturally gravitate to people that stimulate you. Personally, I feel I have a debt to Judy because I didn't treat her with as much respect as I would like to have done and I wanted to stay in touch so I could try help her in some small way. As I said to Judy, I think I owe a debt to about half a million Chinese by now, if you count all the people I've had minor or large altercations with. I'm sure my imperialist attitude comes across in the blog and I do sit and think about it a lot and think seriously about how I can do more than make token adjustments, rather than, in the words of Depeche Mode, remain ultimately selfish. (See 'Get the balance right').
So anyway, Lynn and Judy have asked me a lot of questions that they didn't even think to ask before. Judy is shocked that Brendan was gay (he told her on MSN) and even more shocked that I know Anna was bi-sexual, but she didn't and she worked closely with her. A lot of their development is due to their both having worked with foreigners quite extensively now and not just in schools, where you only meet a certain type of foreigner. I.e a young one on a gap year or the economic migrant on the run. In their own words, they are less "naive" and more "sophisticated," though I don't imagine that to be worldly is synonymous with being virtuous. In any case, Judy has had experiences which are difficult for me to imagine. Without going into too much detail the poverty she lived in when she was young was North Korean in its barbarity. Maybe if I had had a dose of it I wouldn't complain so much when small things don't go right in hotels.
Speaking of which, so far I am quite happy with what I am in now. Yesterday we switched to the Yi Feng, 199 per night, which told us that they did a Western breakfast. Turns out they didn't (well they do boiled eggs) and so I switched again. The Manhattan doesn't, but you can get the room for 185 RMB a night without. Rather peculiarly, they offered to give me 20 rmb each morning towards a KFC next door, if Judy paid 258 for the room, which didn't seem to make financial sense on our part.
My room is huge and its decked out with traditional furniture. One feels as if one is in a Merchant Ivory film or something. (The television is hidden inside the tallboy to preserve the illusion). The hotel was here when I came 7 1/2 years ago and I always wondered what it was like inside. According to the leaflet, in the service guide, the hotel is 4 star and 'Specialized waiters provide complaisant service, which travelers' first choice is staying here' [sic].