Day 8 - Chinese Bureaucratic Rigamarole

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Today is the day when I have to be processed. Let the bureaucracy begin! 

Within the first 30 days you’re living in China, you need to register with the Government and get some sort of paperwork. The paperwork takes approximately 20 days to obtain, barring any problems. Given that I arrived during Chinese New Year, the offices were closed until today, cutting out 7 of my days. Fingers crossed, but things seem to be going smoothly at this point.

First stop: Hospital… because the Canadian health check I provided them wasn’t good enough, apparently.

Now I know what it feels like to be put through a medical amusement park ride. Here is the battery of tests I experienced:
  • Eye check: naming letters from a chart, while wearing glasses. The only figures on the screen are rotated E’s.
  • Mouth Check: Say “ah” while they use one of those reflective metal doctor circles
    • Change rooms
  • Ultrasound: Lay down, have your ribs lubed up, and this wand jabbed around
    • Change rooms
  • Heart Rate/Blood Pressure: Normal procedure
    • Change rooms
  • EKG: lift your shirt for more liquid to be wiped on you, calipers on your leg and both arms, and electrodes along your chest
    • Change rooms
  • Weight/Height: Take off your shoes and jacket, stand on this machine
    • Change rooms and floor
  • Blood sample: take a deep breath for the stab
    • Change rooms
  • X-Ray: put your chest against this and don’t move
Bear in mind, all of this happened within 20 minutes from start to finish. It was like a confusing relay race where all the people instructing you can’t speak much english and don’t really see you as a person. As Ms.Handler put it: “This is China.”

Take Whatever Symbolism You Like
She bought us some drinks from a convenience store across the street - compliments of the school. Quite welcomed, since I wasn’t allowed to eat breakfast before coming.

Next stop: Police station.

On the way there, I notice that neither The Driver (still unaware of his name), nor Ms.Handler, are wearing their seatbelt. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a single Chinese person wearing their seatbelt at any point. A lot of cabs don’t even have them. This baffles me, given the extra-chaotic nature of the traffic here.

I also think about Mandarin vs French. Every time I try to say something in mandarin, but can’t think of the word, I default to French. I have a modest French vocabulary that covers most functional areas that I could need. Despite that, my French remains terrible. Grammar will always get you, especially all those damn verb conjugations, regular and irregular. Mandarin, you know the infinitive of the word and you’re set for almost every context. French difficulty: grammar, gender, and conjugation. Mandarin Difficulty: the tonal differences, and the difficulty remembering all the words. Yes, this is focusing on Oral communication.

Da PoPo's
We arrive at the police station. I wait in the car, but eventually am called in because they’re giving Ms.Handler a hard time. Inside, they see I am who I say I am, but they still don’t want to help. Apparently, this task isn’t in that lady’s job description. 

We wait. 

Eventually, it all gets sorted out after 15ish minutes. Ms.Handler is pissed when we leave, and doesn’t realize that I know a couple mandarin curse words. Hah.

At the bank, we go through a similarly slow process with about 10 signatures and multiple forms of ID. The banker goes through my passport, looking at every single page, to verify that I am who I say I am. How do they think I got into the country, exactly? Are people really fighting, tooth and nail, to smuggle themselves into The People’s Republic of China? How stupid would you have to be to illegally forge your way into China?

Dat Basement Vault
Back in the apartment, Shimou and I eat the last of her Dad’s dumplings, and take a nap. Tonight is when the Brazilian guy invited us to join a practice session of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’m feeling like I’m getting out of shape, so this is a must.

The most inexpensive rate of a gym is nearly 70 dollars per month, almost double Canada’s standard ($40), and that’s only if you buy the full year with a lump sum payment. Otherwise, it’s like $200 CAD per month. Insanity. Hopefully this isn’t similar rates*. On the plus side, a nearby massage place (with the blind masseuses) only costs $12 per hour. Look up the rates for massage in Canada, they’re usually around 40-50 for a HALF hour. I think I prefer a cheap gym and expensive masseuses.

These Things Are All Over
Following the instructions the Brazilian guy told us, we end up wandering around a barren basement of the mall that looks like we’re in some sort of Vault, eventually stumbling across the, uh, Dojo. The class goes for an hour and a half, and he’s a little more strict than I’m used to for martial arts instruction. The four new people - and one more experienced student - all had to practice getting up in the BJJ way. This involves sitting with your feet in front of you, kicking forward, then bringing the same leg back as far as you can, rising into a defensive position. This sounded fine until he said we had to do it 50 times - on each side. The reason the experienced student had to join us was because she didn’t do it correctly at the beginning of the class.

There was an American guy there who reminded me of me when I was his age, 22. He was smart, more outgoing than me, and more athletic, but he was overconfident in things he didn’t actually know. He was telling me with certainty the correct way to learn mandarin - something neither of us is fluent in. He was a nice enough guy, but brazen, and seemed like he would only give you his attention if you had a use for him. He also seemed to be hitting on Shimou. At the end, he walked off without saying goodbye after all three of us went to the 5th floor of the mall for some food.

After that, we went home, unwound, and went to bed.

Editing Music: 

Wolf Alive

*Not similar, no. Much, much more. The gym was 3600 RMB for 13 months, while BJJ was 3600 for.. 3 months.

No comments:

Post a Comment