22.12.2012 - 24.12.2012
I'm sorry. You know, I'm so English about being sorry that yesterday my phone rang and I said "sorry". There was no one else around.
Most likely yesterday, most probably in the afternoon, I lost my wallet. Claire said oh, Joe also just lost his wallet. Sort of, well fancy that. I gently prodded her, in a manner of speaking, and she made a phone call. Later, 2 helpful students got involved. Mary and John.
The day before, I'm in town with 2 John and Mike, to buy a laptop. Laptop purchased, I later hear that my compadre in Xi’an, James, just bought the same one, except it has the brash screen. The retina, iris, or eyelash or something.
Pull up a chair.
A week or two ago one of the colours on my Compaq Presario C300 went and this time jerking the lid up and down rapidly didn't cure it. It has numerous other ailments including an extremely disobedient DVD drive that doesn't like disobedient DVDs. It has a recently installed emergency Chinese version (replacing the -I quite liked it- Vista, which flatlined) of Windows XP on it, which I've never been great friends with. It's about 5 years old and in the 2.5 years I've had it it has done a lot of huff and puffing. Time to let an old friend ride a Honda Lawnmower.
So I bought a new Napple. A napple is a word I coined that means an apple I wanted now. I bought this with less than a week of thinking about it, it was in the now time frame.
Is it a pro, Mr President?
It's a "Pro" but it's the bottom of the Pro family, below the gauche retina displays and only dual core, not quadrochipic. It's i5 intel not i7. However, it still cost about 6 times more than I paid for my Compaq.
Were I in the UK I would buy another PC heap off and surf away on my old tin surf board. But in China I'm not so clued up about the 2nd hand market and one thing is, at the moment Mac goods are cheaper than in the UK.
My Mac worked right out the box and it was one click to get the whole OS in English. After all these years you'd be surprised how hard it is to do that with a PC. Case in point, the school one I'm using now. It's been changed to English but certain items in the Control Panel, as well as warnings and dialog boxes that inform you what's happening, remain in Chinese.
And that was my whole day. It took more than 2 hours to get in and more than 2 hours to get back when if everything runs smoothly it is no more than 40 minutes each way. On the way in we waited half an hour for the school bus and when it came it filled up with students and we couldn't get on. So we caught 2 slow public buses. I had to say goodbye to John and Mike and hang around in UBC testing my new tool while Jenny finished work. I went to pick up keys I had left at her place the other day. It was bitterly cold, -18 but with a wind chill that made it feel much colder and this was instrumental, I think, in taxis being occupied everywhere. So I had to walk all the way to the train station, which including the initial waiting was over an hour spent. And my knee. Did I tell you about my knee? And my existential crisis?
Near the station I got one of those taxis which is like a small bus. The cabbie waits until he can get 3 or 4 passengers but only charges them each a portion of the going rate. He offered me 10 yuan to the interchange, which is spot on, because it would be about 30 on the meter. He waited for a long time-20-30 minutes- and then finally set off still needing another passenger and he drove very slowly talking on his mobile phone, looking for passengers all the while. When I finally got to the interchange I immediately changed into a cab to the uni and that was offered for 10 shared.
When I got back it was gone 9.30 PM and the restaurants were closed. I just managed to buy some provisions from a convenience store I stormed out of the other day because they were having a conversation about me -does he take sugar style-which is just how it is in China and I need to devise a way of not caring about. The thing is in China one is constantly met by people who think seeing a Westerner is just about the most hilarious thing that's happened to them all week. Well I suppose we in fact are.
The conversation went like this:
Man right next to me: Does he speak Chinese?
Shop keeper: Yes, he does.
Man right next to me: Does he like bananas?
I've got the cab thing pretty much figured out now. Although it's 80 rmb from the centre of town to our campus you can cut that in half or even a quarter if you take 2 cabs. That 80 rmb is based on a cab on a meter driving all the way to our campus and back again with the meter still switched on and that's why they refuse to switch the meter on. However, you can get them to switch it on from the centre to the interchange and it's only 30 rmb to the interchange, which is most of the way.
Another thing I recently figured out is the Bank of China cash machine. I didn't post about this because I was too busy but it's kind of interesting. The other day I had a dream that there was a Bank of China ATM on campus. I remember waking up and thinking it, oh, it's only a dream. But that very same morning in class John said to me, almost apropos of nothing, "there is a Bank of China ATM on campus". Even what prompted him to say that is kind of a mystery and personally I haven't had a prophetic dream since I dream about Prince Charles wearing a cream suit and saw him wearing a cream suit in the newspaper the next day. That was back in 1994. Sure enough, there is and all the foreign teachers who hadn't been told that by Claire or our 'assistants' were grateful for the knowledge.
My final bit of tittle tattle is that 2 or 3 days ago Claire decided to throw a Christmas dinner, inspired by our party and then today- dinner day- cancelled it. But there is a silver lining to the cloud. I now know this building's proper name is 'The International Exchange Centre'.