Day 22 - Cultural Comments

Monday, February 29th, 2016 (Happy Leap Year!)
Smog level: 2 Mountains

I walk on the elevator at 8:15am and hear a little kid start exclaiming to his parents/various relatives how tall I am. The elevator is full, and he keeps saying variants of the word “gao,” which has been said enough times around me to start recognizing it (Hint: it means tall). The kid kept proclaiming it, and only was told to simmer down because he started pointing. It happens from time to time. Not as often as you think, and usually when a kid almost walks into me because they aren’t watching where they’re going.

At work, the guards wave me through no problem. This one actually cracked a smile without shattering! Agatha went over classroom management with me and taught me a thing or two about the political climate in China. I know there was a cultural revolution thanks to Brad and The Director explaining a little bit over the past week, but I didn’t realize that Hong Kong and Taiwan were not involved in said revolution. This means that HK and Taiwan might both be non-interventioned evolutions of pre-Mao China. I guess that explains why they speak Cantonese, now that I think about it. Maybe.

This is actually a Panorama from Melbourne that I never put up.
I didn't take any pictures today, so here are a few bits and pieces.
The Apartment's Living Room
The more I hear about the past 100 years of progress, the more I want to know details and repercussions of everything Mao did, primarily the social and gender role outcomes. It’s been hinted at here and there from people, but never fully laid out. Same with the double standard for Asian people and Westerners. We totally get lots of leeway and can operate by a different set of rules, but I’m not sure the difference until I can compare with the alternative. Agatha would actually be great to talk to about this because she is HK descent, but grew up in the US.

I eat lunch with a couple colleagues. Jen tells me about how live worms were found in Lipton’s lemon green tea. She told a couple friends back home who ripped open the bags and found worms in theirs as well. Gross. I have an hour and half to kill before sitting in on lectures, so I head on down to ze lounge... Still haven’t gotten over this place. While reviewing my mandarin notes, AJ invites me to play pool with him and Paul. I lose both games of “cutthroat.”

The Narrow Kitchen
Just out of sight on the right is a wall.
The counter with the burner is 2" above my kneecap.
The first class is taught by The Director. His style is like a firm, but kind father. He gently corrects them and gives genuine encouragement while making jokes and keeping them focused. Ryan teaches the second class, and he’s much more of a military drill sergeant kind of role. He counts down, and will take away “stars” if they misbehave. I’ve heard that the Chinese side is somewhat military in style, this definitely works well with them. Both have their respect and seem to get results. I’ll probably take a little from Ran and aim more toward The Director, though. Interesting to see the very different styles in action, especially knowing that both classes have been taught by both teachers, alternating days.

After work, I write up a cheat sheet of verb conjugations and useful words that I’ve been collecting since I got here. AJ mentioned that he wanted to start learning, so I figured I’d just write it up for him. Practice for me, and might be useful for him. Shimou and I checked out another food court in the mall, which she didn’t like. I thought it was a little fancier than the other, but she didn’t agree. It's an interesting system: you have to pick up a card from them, throw money on the card, then buy the food around the area with the card. It's smart, psychologically, to divorce the customer from directly handling cash. It's been shown to increase spending. When we returned the card for our cash, the girl gave me back exactly ¥20 of the ¥100 we put on there. That seemed a bit light, and the dishes weren't rounded prices. Shimou asked for a receipt, and the girl behind the counter became enraged and told her that she had done her job correctly.

This is what the sockets
here look like. They can
accept most plugs, but
you'll want to keep in mind
that they're 220V (NA is 110-120)
If someone gets defensive that quickly, I'm inclined to think they're lying. In likeliness, they might have stolen ¥10-20 from me, but that's a cheap enough lesson to never go back there again.

We hit up the grocery store in the basement of the mall for various items. They seem to have reorganized the nonsensical parts of the store and are grouped more logically. They totally read my post and realized the error of their ways. *cough*

A couple things about Chinese grocery stores: Some areas smell strongly of fish and sell parts of the animal that we would probably just toss. The smell is fairly contained to the meat areas, luckily. In the produce section, some is pre-saran wrapped, including things like bananas and individual dragon fruit. If you want to grab a few apples, say, they’ll sometimes have an employee hand you a plastic bag. It’s only happened once, which was during this visit. You then have to hand it to an employee who will weigh it and tag it. Most times, I’ve had to hand them loose fruit, which they then bag and tag. These employees sometimes also have small amps hanging from their hips with head mics plugged in, shouting out god-knows-what. Probably the good deals or whatever.

This is the beach on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, right near the "12 Apostles."
They're just outside of this little bay.
I have to get up at 6:45 tomorrow, so it was an early night. Shimou went back to home, and I wound down with some stand-up comedy. Been working through Doug Stanhope and Patton Oswalt. I recommend the former if you like really brutally honest, angry, drug addled libertarian comedians, and the latter if you like chubby, self-deprecating nerds. 

Words of the day:
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Happy - gào xìng [gow shing]
Sad - nán gùo [nahn goo-oh]
Angry - shēng tì [shung tea]
Annoyed - fán [fahn]

Latte - ná tǐe [nah tee-eh]

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