Day 34 - QiQi Visits Zootopia

Saturday, March 12th, 2016
Smog Level: All 3 Mountains

“I need to start working harder” I thought to myself as I showered this morning. For some reason, I find myself semi-competing with my roommate in learning mandarin, and wanted to get up to his level in the near future. It’s possible, but I’ll need to start taking 1-on-1 lessons several times a week - and soon. Part of me thinks that I’ll feel mentally unstimulated - it’s one of the reasons I have a hard time studying languages. I feel the return is much slower than ideas. But learning a language and getting to a point where I can converse at a basic level with people will allow me to propel myself forward through basic interactions, and require less concerted study. I also need to start focusing on the green tea and additional writing on top of just journaling.
So what happened today? Well, in light of those thoughts, I actually didn’t do that much work. I wrote what happened yesterday and wrote an article that Dr. Steve had asked me to write. It’s two weeks after the soft deadline, but better late than never.

I have a student that I’m supposed to tutor tomorrow, meaning I have to find a book that might be her level. And where better to find a book than where we’re already planning on going!? That’s right, we’re going to Wang Fu Jing, where I had noticed a foreign book store way back when we came here for Luke’s birthday! Apparently we’re seeing an American movie, Zootopia, and it’s right across the street.

These are all the theatre's snacks, not including popcorn
The bookstore is better than I thought, and the prices weren’t as ridiculous as the place from last night. Last night, Aesop’s fables was ¥150. Sherlock Holmes, Huckleberry Finn, and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations were all about ¥20 ($4 CAD/$3 USD) each! Bingo! I think these would still be too advanced for this student, but maybe not for ones in grade 5 or 6.

Entrance to the Weird
QiQi [chee-chee] arrives, and we scurry up to the 5th floor because we are late. Chinese movie theaters sell sweet popcorn, like kettle corn - not salty, buttered popcorn like the West. They also have less varied snacks in general, and sell more involved desserts like Cheesecake and pie slices. Shimou says they don’t care if you bring in outside snacks, which I had purchased earlier from a convenience store: sour plum-filled gummies, and blueberry juice. The movie, Zootopia, was pretty great, you should see it. The level of animation detail/quality is getting damn amazing.

After the movie, we settled in a restaurant that served “western” food. I tried to get the healthiest thing on the menu, being “roast chicken.” It arrived, alongside their pasta dishes and a small pizza. Everything is grease city. Roast chicken covered in oily sauce. Well, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. Elaine (Day 27) had suggested a website to order food: It allows you to get free delivery on orders over ¥100 (~$20 CAD / $15 USD), and they will bring it the next morning. They also accept cash, which I now have access to, thanks to that advance. I am still lacking in some kitchenware, however…

I learn more about the word chou. It’s a negative word in every usage. I find it funny for that reason. Here’s the breakdown:

(Remember how to read the tones: Flat, upward, down-up, and downward)

  • chōu - verb, “To slap”
  • chóu - noun, roughly “a grudge”
  • chǒu - adj, “ugly”
  • chòu - adj, “smelly”
so, "rúguǒ wǒ de chóu méiyǒule nà mè wǒ jiù chōu chòu chǒu rén" translates to “If my hatred ends, I will slap ugly, smelly people.” Good luck getting the inflections right! Bickering with Shimou slowly adds to my collection of sentence structures, but I’ve asked her to help me with basic conversation, like “how was your day?” (nǐ jìntǐan zěnmèyàng? [knee jin-tee-en zen-moe-uh-yong]). Baby stepping my way into conversations.

We three wandered down the exotic food alley, known as the very special name “street food street” which is where the tourists gather to see roasted spiders, scorpions, and other things that tourists want to see. It feels manufactured, fake. Like, “this is what people expect china to be, so here it is, tourists! Take your pictures and tell people how weird China is!” but the rest of my experience hasn’t been nearly as bizarre as this alleyway. 

Shopkeepers sing, wear costumes, clap at you, shout out random phrases, and call after you in English to get your attention, all in the hopes of making a sale. I took a video to show what this alley feels like, which has much more english than you’d normally come across. Shimou mainly wanted Stinky tofu (chòu dòfu [choh doe-fu]), which she obtained. We also grabbed some green tea ice cream from a place that’s famous for it’s teas. Shimou’s was floral tea ice cream. Blech. Floral tea makes me feel like I’m consuming perfume.

The three of us stopped at another bookstore before shoving QiQi into a cab and saying goodnight. After subwaying home, I scribbled the daily haps, and pretended I was Iron Man in my boxers until I pass out. 

Sweet dreams, and Goodnight. I’m beat.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
All of the below are pronounced: Ch-oh

chōu - verb, “To slap”
chóu - noun, roughly “a grudge”
chǒu - adj, “ugly”
chòu - adj, “smelly”

Editing Music
We Were Kids
Turtle Giant

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