Day 129 - Nonsense Sounds

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3 Mountains

Smog Free

Ah, the beauty of Beijing after a good wash. The rain sends the smog packing and unveils the mountains that you often forget are in the middle distance. I can see them from certain points at work, and on the bus to and from.

Smog Birth

Just some shady parts of campus
Definitely a beautiful clear day. Shimou told me that she lied to me about summer being smog free. It seems that any time where there’s a heavy load on electricity consumption, that’s when the smog really amps up. 

I’m really looking forward to the day when China deems Solar power to be the way things will be, and everything’ll be ripped up and switched out within 6 months. Boom, widespread carbon footprint of a giant brought down to the size of a normal man. Snap of the fingers. I guess that’s the upside to not needing the clearance of the general population.

Bus Division of Labor

I’ve mentioned that there are two employees on each bus: the driver, and the co-driver. The Co is usually situated directly before or after the 2nd door. They will accept money and issue tickets while the driver just focuses on driving. Some are a little pushy.

Case in point: today's ride was like we were in a desperate hurry at every stop, yelling at everyone to get on as quickly as possible. “Hurry! Hurry! Get on! Ay-yaaa! What’re you doing?! Quickly!” from what I could decipher. She yelled at the people like she’d already told them twice. Imagine how stressed this woman must feel, how burnt out she must be at end of the day.

The more lush version of where the swans/geese hang out
Nonsense Sounds

In the café, I have 10 of their smallest coin (in circulation) which is the equivalent to a Chinese dime. I want to consolidate them into a 1 yuán coin. “Wǒ yào huàn zhè gè 1 yuán qián” was the sentence Bunny offered me, though she would’ve just done it for me. I need to do more things for myself and avoid becoming one of those foreigners who needs a translator attached at the hip. I dislike being uselessly dependent. 

Imagine holding a cup of water in your hand and having to walk as quickly as you can to get all of the water onto a counter before you too much of it leaks out. That’s how I felt holding this sentence in my head, blurting it out as soon as I hit the café bar, like a torrent of nonsense.

Luckily, I know every word in that sentence except “huàn” which means "to change." My phonological loop* holds up, but there’s only so long that you can hold nonsense syllables in our brain before they degrade. There’s probably a curve to that… Likely exponential. Anyway, I successfully got my change on the first try.

A picture from a Wechat acquaintance.
Thanks, friend!
Defenses Up

I’ve noticed a common trend among my Chinese friends at work, and that’s to be guarded with their personal life and secrets. Then again, a common theme with people in general is trust issues and some deep-seeded betrayal that happened when they were young. Maybe I have a skewed perspective on that, but whenever people have opened up over the years, it usually boils down to something of the sort. 

China seems to operate on relationships with people in power, and that’s how things get done. More so than in the West. If that’s true, then it makes sense that people would be worried about the rumor mill. Another salient fact is that my coworkers are in a fishbowl. It’s a bunch of Chinese women who all are forced to stay on campus all day, class or not, and entertain themselves in one form or another. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how that would make one careful of what information circulates.

*A phonological loop is the recently heard sounds you can backtrack and keep in your head. When you get caught in class, daydreaming, or your boss calls on you in a meeting and you're thinking about last night's game, the phonological loop is your ability to recall the last 30 seconds or so of chatter that you didn't actually listen to. You're able to regurgitate it and (hopefully) sound like you were paying attention thanks to this little function.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Change (to change something, not petty cash)

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