Day 25 - Quiz Night in a Pocket of Expats

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
Smog Level: 0 Mountains - You can almost taste it.

I’ve noticed a slight cough developing, and ask my roommate if he’s felt anything similar. He said that he’s had a slight cough after living here, and that it went away after 3 weeks of vacation elsewhere. You feel a bad omen when you look at the greyness out the window, like staring into a ghost town. When walking around town, you can see a white film over everything, like you’re developing cataracts, or your glasses need a wipe.

Beijing would be fantastic if it weren’t for the air, but it's still pretty damn good.
Puppies Make Fashionable Hats
I didn’t sleep well last night. After the debacle of teaching yesterday, I was dreading standing in front of a class again. Things usually come to me fairly quickly. I'm hoping now isn't an exception. This second class is my other grade 2 class, Indiana. I know all their names, they have fewer antsy children, and seem like they’ll be easier to manage. Finger's crossed.

I watch Ryan start the day by teaching Washington, the class I fumbled the day before. He has them answering him with “yes, sir!” and I could barely get them to respond sometimes. This was because my instructions weren’t clear, I didn’t project my voice, and I was unsure in my actions. After that run through and watching Ryan, I felt more prepared for my next class, but had a half hour break before they would arrive.

How did I prepare? I meditated and ran through the name list of the seats. I gotta say, simply knowing their names does wonders for calling on them and classroom management. “PETER!” is much more potent than “Stop that.. uh.. you!” This class bumped my confidence back up. By the time the second class arrived, I knew all their names and felt better equipped to handle them.

My transitions went smoother, I had them participating, and they listened.


After class, I grabbed lunch with Dopple, where he talked about how it’s difficult to get to the gym regularly, and that some Asian women seem to prefer men with a little more mass. He had lost 70lbs just by cutting out eating rice while in South Korea, and had gained back 20 of them in China. His wife said she prefers him heavier, he reports. 

MC Luigi
In the teacher's lounge, I found the chance to learn more about my fellow Carden teachers, while Jack (from yesterday) sat and listened. Kanye West, Pleco (translation app).. and Final Fantasy IX. Apparently they’re not allowed to charge anything for apps in china, so all of the apps on the Chinese store are free, including for-pay games. They are, however, allowed to do in-app purchases.

Let’s fast forward...

 Cats Man The Bars in China (If only...)
Tad, a Carden teacher, had invited me to join their trivia team, which Luigi, another carden teacher, was running tonight. Sounds like fun, and the usual routine of going home, working, and studying is getting a little monotonous. Why not galavant with new coworkers under the influence of alcohol when I have to work at 9am the next morning?

I hail a cab, which is actually my first time doing this.. ever, actually. I point to a message in my wechat that Tad had sent me, and off we go. He asks me at one point what route I want to take, but I basically say “you’d know better than me” and let him decide*. At least, that’s what I hope I said. (“nǐ júdào gěng hǎo bǐ wǒ,” which may be closer to “you know more good compared to me”) I arrive. Tad grabs me and leads me down a dark alley with Mary (Carden), and Ashton (Carden, Kindergarten). We wandered in the wrong direction before eventually finding it.  After being there multiple times, they still got lost on the way somehow. Sorry, Mary, I’m outing you here.

Blury Pictures Really Suit Drunken Nights
The bar, Mado, is pretty cool, down a sparsely lit alleyway, and looks like it was a small house converted to a bar. It’s owned, I think, by an expat, and you can order in English. Convenient. And here I had already learned the word for beer (pìjìu [pee-geo]). There are a few Carden teachers there, but there are also a lot of other expats. We start drinking, with the beer special being 2 Tsing Tao or Tigers for ¥15 (~$3 CAD). Our team, “The Introverted Ramps,” consisted of: Me, Mary, Dan (from yesterday), and Tad. We were still waiting on two others when the rounds began.

The quiz: 10 themed pictures around famous “Captains,” then News. Luigi made an attempt at an 8-bit Music round, but Chinese internet foiled that one. The last round was a bonus one, which I don’t recall if there was a theme or not. By the end I had drank about 6 beers on an empty stomach. Our team got 0 on the news round (I purposely ignore news), yet still came in 3rd. I feel like that’s an accomplishment in itself. Somewhere in the middle of the quiz, Stacy (Carden), and Maddie (Mandarin tutor) joined our team.

Final Scores
The winners were a team of only two guys. Americans, I think. Props.

Drunken revelry began. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and easy enough to talk to. Tad had mentioned a few places that made good craft brews in Beijing, and one of them was Slow Boat. Who did I meet? The general manager of Slow Boat, British John, and one of the sales staff, Taiwanese(?) Ban. Turns out John is a cider brewer, but he’s more hardcore than me - he actually selects and juices his apples himself. I tell him about my desire to make a jalapeño beer, and hard ginger beer. Cool dude.

It continued in this fashion until I nearly beg Tad to let us leave and get some food. Kind of sloppy, four of us (Dan, Mary, Tad, and I) head back down the dimly lit alley with Tad yelling “SHÈN MÈ?!” at random times and people. Imagine someone with a thick accent drunkenly yelling “WHAT?!” at you. He successfully hailed a cab by waving, then standing in front of it, legs and arms spread wide. I remember being somewhat worried about the cab stopping in time.

Tad tries making hilariously broken conversation with the cab driver, who isn’t really getting it. Eventually, we end up in some back-alley, hole-in-the-wall feeling place that sells chuar (sp?), which is usually spicy lamb on a kebab. Delicious. Tad gets us even more liquor, which I’m sure I don’t need at this point. Some of that rice liquor that can be around 65%, and this old man gives us 4 tall boys of beer. I’m not even sure if those beers were paid for or... just some sort of gift for the 50 devoured chuar we bought.

Beer, Chuar, and Rice Liquor
Around 2:45am, I really need to sleep, as my nap had been brief and barely enough as it was. Fun night. My fingers were crossed for how bad the next morning would be.

Tad walked me to the street and waved around for a cab, though none were in sight. But, like magic, a random parked car came to life and pulled up, ready to take a fare. I don’t even know if he was a cab, but I guess he wanted to make a little money. Tad yells my building/neighborhood’s name at the guy twice, and assumes I’ll make it there ok. Luckily, I knew my street’s name, and have starred my building on google maps. Between the two of these, the cab drives me 5 minutes and I'm home. I think he ripped me off a little, charging me ¥30, but.. whatever, it’s like $6 CAD.

Fall into oblivion, hoping for a soft landing.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
All - qúan bù [chuan boo]
Some - yì xīe [EE she-eh]
None - méi yǒu [may yo] - (Exceptionally useful. It can me "don't have," "didn't do," or, rarely, "am not.")
Question - wèntí [wun-tea]
Car - chē [cho-ah] (I've stumbled with their lone "e's" because they're sometimes like a OA combo. Think "choa")

Editing Music
Brother Sister
Sahara Beck

*Apparently this is considered rude. Like saying "Why are you asking me?! Just drive!"

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