Day 87 - Scaring Old Men

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
Smog Level: 3/3 Mountains - MAGNIFICENT

Why I'm Cash Poor

As previously mentioned, money’s getting a bit tight. Of my 8500 salary, I had to pay back half my 5k advance, and the 3k I owed to Shimou from fronting me money in Bali and in the first couple months here. The last straw was buying my cellphone (¥2200) and one of my tutoring students cancelling 4 hours worth of tutoring. Coming up ¥800 ($160 CAD) lighter than expected can have that effect sometimes. According to my math, that left me with ¥800, plus whatever tutoring offered.

In Defense of the Cellphone

Having a largely dysfunctional one in China can make a bit of a difference when it comes to translation, maps, and generally getting around. Ignoring the basic frustration of a clunker phone, the piece of mind that comes with being able to reliably access maps when you get lost is worth it. But maybe that’s all just rationalization.

Either way, I don’t have enough money to buy one of those water cooler jugs of water. They cost ¥25, I have ¥22. Guess I’ll have to spend ¥3.50 on buying a 1.5L bottle of water. I asked my roommate to get it, though I’m not sure if he heard me or if he just keeps forgetting. It’s possible that he’s frustrated with me for not getting it myself, as he did get the last one.

Hangin' Stuff outside in public areas. Chinese Past-time!
Tipsy in the Afternoon

On my way to the gym today, a man entered the elevator carrying 3 empty bottles, each 750ml-1L, of beer. The smell of alcohol was strong, though it seemed to be coming from him. He spoke to me, though the only thing I get after his initial string is “tīng bù dǒng,” speculating that I didn’t understand. I repeat the phrase and laugh - he is totally on the money. He asks if I am Canadian or American, which I was also able to answer. Seeming pleased with this, we parting ways on the ground flood.

A Question

Read the following phrase and tell me if it sounds familiar, 5 points if you can place it:
“Then the world will be for the common people, and the sounds of happiness will reach the deepest springs. Ahh, come! People of every land; how can you not be roused?“
Strange Bird in the School Zoo
Answer at the bottom, next to the *.

Scaring Old Men

Approaching the gym, I tried to hop over a low fence and almost fell on my face. I did this because of a slow-moving old man in front of me, and because I wanted to see if I could. I made it, but my foot nearly got caught. He said something in shock, and I awkwardly walked off laughing, having no clue what he said or the proper response to it. This sort of awkward language situation happens a lot.

In the Gym

I’ve neglected working on my abs, but have resolved to spend more dedicated time on them. They’re such a pain to get into, more-so than any other muscle group. Such a steep beginning curve, with few options that make it easier. Bodyweight resistance or less is difficult to find when you’re starting weak, and being someone with a bit more mass/length, the leverage is against me. Suck it up and power through. It'll get easier with time.

Vocab Lessons
Hungry and Thirsty

I immediately drink nearly 3L of water and eat a massive lunch upon arriving at school. Thank god they provide both. I could ask to borrow more money, but we should get paid any day now and I’d rather not have to overextend myself... again. I worked out that I need about 5h of tutoring on the side to pay for all of my current weekly luxuries (like massages, mandarin lessons, weekend excursions) - without dipping into salary. You’re allowed to export money so long as you have paperwork proving that you made it legally. If you try to move more money than that, you’ll have to get a bit more creative, but seems possible. Let’s not worry about that just yet. Either way, you're allowed to send 100% of your salary; for some reason they don't question the lack of living expenses.

This is what happens when traffic tries to go both ways
and it's been reduced to one-lane.

In the teacher's lounge’s bathroom, I hear two tiny voices coming from one stall. It’s not only strange that there are two in one stall, but also that there are children in the lounge to begin with. Today has just been a strange day. Or, as Agatha calls them, a “China Day.”


After work, Ayi is cleaning our apartment when I get back. This week it’s my turn to be there while she works, so I have to push off my 1-on-1 tutoring until tomorrow. I can’t really understand her, but I’m slowly beginning to catch more phrases. She told me that Josh’s Chinese is getting better, and said something about mine, but have no idea what it was. Josh says she’s sweet, which is surprising because she always sounds so aggressive and shouty. I look forward to understanding her more one day.

*It’s the German(?)-to-Chinese-to-English version of Marx’s famous “Proletariat of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!” As the history book pointed out, the Chinese version is much less violent, and much more poetic.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
[m-ow] - Think "meow" without the E
xióng māo
[she-oh-ng m-ow]
Yes, a Panda is a "Bear Cat"

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