Sunday, March 18

the early to bed, curious, friendly Chinese

1. I didn't go to my neighbors' house last week, so I felt like I needed to go this week for sure. I had some stuff to do downtown this afternoon, then when I got back, I made some banana bread. I knocked on their door twice and they didn't answer. I came back over, wrote a note and put the bread in a bag to hang on their door, then I knocked on the door one more time. This time, the mom answered. All the lights were off and I immediately felt embarrassed. I asked if they were sleeping and she said yes, but invited me in anyway. I refused, of course, then came back and checked two different clocks to make sure it wasn't too late. It was only 7:15! Still, I am embarrassed that I knocked three times and got her out of bed.

2. Yesterday afternoon, I got on the bus and gave the money man one yuan. He held up two fingers and started saying something. My first thought was that he was trying to get me to pay two yuan instead of one, but I soon figured out that he was telling me it was the second time I had ridden his bus. Actually, I ride that bus a lot, but it must have been the second time with him taking money. Since it took me a while to get what he was saying (and he was saying it in quite a loud voice) the whole bus was staring at me. He continued to talk to me and we had the usual dialogue. (Are you Russian? Oh...American? How long have you been here? Oh, your Chinese is good. What do you do? A teacher? What do you teach?) He said some other things that I didn't understand (which proves that they are always overly generous in their compliments of my Chinese) and the whole time I was super self conscious because the whole bus was watching our conversation and when I didn't understand, one guy at the back started saying OKAY-EE! OKAY-EE! Either as encouragement, to show off his one word English, or to make fun of me. Not sure which one. I was so happy to get off that bus.

3. I went swimming at the newest pool in Yanji (at the uni I teach at now) last week. They have a woman in the locker room who keeps the floor dry and clean and does various other tasks, but generally just sits in the locker room. She kept her eye on me the whole time I was changing (there aren't stalls) and then when I came back in to shower after swimming, she came over and started talking to the lady showering next to me, all the while looking me over. I just tried to ignore them, but then she came over to talk to me. All she wanted to know was how tall I was. She guessed and was only one centimeter off!

4. I went to a St. Patrick's day party last night at the house of some American guys (I guess with Irish roots). A few hours into the party, there was a knock at the door and an old Chinese man comes in and sits down. The guys said that he got to know them as soon as they moved in and now he looks to see when their light is on. When it is, he comes over and just chats with them in Chinese. He was pretty excited to see an apartment full of people and he repeatedly invited us over to his house (the guys said they go over at least once a week). I am glad my neighbors are friendly, but I'm glad they're not that friendly; although that would be a great way to practice Chinese!

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