Published: November 25th 2012November 24th 2012
Elaine the dancer
...knows all the moves
New photos on: http://s251.photobucket.com/albums/gg311/draftwrite/
…..”Ni hao” is a universal greeting in China. It means, literally, “You good”. It's approximate pronunciation is “Knee how”. The connection to the title will become clear in this issue, largely devoted to being in hospital in China. I am, at the time of writing, in good health, however my colleague & co-singer / guitarist, Steve, is not. Read on.....
…..I've been to the hospital twice today to visit Steve. Coming back from a party last night (about 12.30am), on his e-scooter he swerved to avoid another bike & clipped his knee against one of those substantial municipal rubbish bins. He didn't come off but found out a couple of hundred metres further on he'd smashed his right knee badly. He felt queasy on discovering the displaced patella & ended up lying on the ground for around an hour trying to contact friends before his mate, Max, the Russian guy whose birthday party he'd just been to, came with his girlfriend to help him to the Yangzhou no.1 hospital. Luckily Max speaks fluent Chinese but Steve was worried about the conditions, the grimy rooms, doctors apparently considering operating straight away, even though he couldn't be
Steve's knee, before & after
sure... He called me around 4.45am & I suggested he go to Subei hospital, near the Yangzhou city centre, where they have a special foreigner's section with English speaking doctors. I grabbed Marc's e-bike & scooted down to meet them there at around 6.30am.....
…..the foreigner's unit isn't open until around 9am but they give him the option of a private room, (¥200 per day, about Au$30), a bed in a ward of 3, (¥40) or a ward of 6, (¥20). Having no idea how long he'll be there or what it's all going to cost or time to contact his insurance company, he opts for the middle option. They find him a bed in a ward between 2 Chinese men with their wives or partners, children & other visitors either resident or visiting. After assigning an orderly to look after him, mainly to bring him food, a female orderly presents him with an electric shaver. Shaving is the last thing on his mind but she seems happy when he turns it on & gives his chin a once over. Maybe she wants to kiss him later.....
…..I go back at lunchtime to take some provisions & necessities
Don Quixote, Nanjing
Steve & I jamming with Tony, the resident musician
as he'll be there a while. They're planning to operate on Thursday. It's not like those decadent, bourgeoise capitalist countries, say the UK or Australia, where you go to the hospital & they provide everything you need. This is communist China, so, apart from the bed & a pair of concentration camp chic pyjamas you need to provide everything else, Not easy when you can't actually get out of bed. My first trip to the hospital shop provides the necessary plastic containers to take care of calls of nature. I make a return trip to buy a toothbrush & toothpaste, some chocolate snack bars & bottled water. Having said that I believe the cafeteria style food does appear to be included in the daily rate.....
…..they assign an orderly to take care of him, to fetch anything he might need. The other 2 men in the beds on either side of him appear to have family members staying in the small ward with them. They are all really interested to see a waiguoren, (foreigner), in their midst but are friendly enough once we chat to them, as best we can with our poor Chinese, & theirs too, if you
Niu Rou Shui Jiao
Beef dumplings, great winter food at La Mian
consider the Yangzhou accent.....
…..the squat, old woman related to the first man in the first bed appears to have taken on a self appointed supervisory position in the ward. When I visit later Steve tells me she heard him call for the nurse to replenish his “shui yao”, (“water medicine”, or drip), the old girl helpfully gets there quickly & starts tweaking the plastic tube attached to his arm to get the last few drops out. When you don't know the Chinese word for “embolism” then “F%&* off” in plain English accompanied by a frantic waving of the arms can suffice. His friend Simon, who you may remember from a previous YYW, was hit by a car IN a Yangzhou MacDonalds, (after a drunken driver crashed through the shopfront!), has donated his crutches ready for Steve's transition to mobility. I suggest placing the crutches within easier reach, to fend off the old woman, possibly the biggest risk to his recovery.....
....Steve's reported as being a bit distressed after the operation. The Chinese philosophy, like the one about cold drinks being bad for your health, especially in winter, is that too much pain killing medicine is also bad
Elaine, talent show
ready for the dance part of her performance
for you. He thinks he needs more. We quickly get together a roster of teachers willing to stay with him overnight in 4 hour shifts. I agree to the graveyard shift, midnight to 4am. I borrow Marc's e-bike &, after a cold, wet half-hour trip to Subei hospital, I find Steve is peacefully sleeping so I do the same on the folding bed they've provided until Patrick & Mike arrive at 4am. Luckily I don't have classes until 10.30am!.....
…..not sure why but after Mike & Patrick's visit they move Steve to a private room, at no extra charge. He has a spacious room, with fridge, microwave, flat screen TV & no one to fiddle with his drip. I visit with Jim Zhang, the manager of Gloria Jean's, who takes some cheesecake & a takeaway cup of latte. Steve's looking better already. He's a little worried that he's sleeping a lot. I tell him, (from personal experience), that it's a good thing. His body will heal quicker if it can rest & concentrate its energies on the injury.....
…..testing Grade 6 students. It's not funny, just pathetic for the most part. Having taught some of the same kids
Second place prize
She was pretty happy with that
in grade 3, when we had no curriculum & made up lessons about food, names of planets in the solar system & their relative sizes & taught them songs, (they still remember most of, “Hello Goodbye”!), we now have a painfully simple curriculum based on Sesame street characters which is meant to ensure that they get all the basics thoroughly engrained. The bright ones are bored & the, ...less able, yes, that sounds better than what I was tempted to write..., are never going to differentiate, “he” from “she” or remember that English words have plurals. Some appear, during the oral exam anyway, incapable of making any sound remotely resembling human speech, despite being more than capable of speech during the classes.....
…..having in one class taught just 6 adjectives as opposites, (wet / dry, clean / dirty, new / old), I have to give a couple of kids credit for at least a spirited attempt to answer the following profound proposition; “This hat is wet, (pointing to a dry hat), how about this one?” ...pregnant pause. “This one is...not wet”......
.....Elaine, who had been teaching Steve Chinese, is a keen dancer & is now trying her hand
Luyuan electric scooter
at songwriting & singing. Steve helped her to put the music together for a show at the university the week before last, now she has another show to do & another song. It'll fall to me this time to work out the music as Steve will definitely still be out of action. Then there's next week's HSK Chinese exam in Nanjing, with Alex, Patrick & I all realising we don't know enough. Level 4 is going to be a lot harder than than the Level 2 exam we managed easily last time.....
…..I have finally succumbed to the temptation to buy an e-scooter. One of the Chinese English teachers in my office, Martha, offers to help me negotiate the purchase & help translate some of the details, (motor power, battery life etc.). I have built up some “guanxi” (loosely translated as “connection”), by helping to record some readings for her lessons & starting to teach her 4 year old daughter the violin. There's a sale on at the shop near the Da Run Fa. I can get a pretty nifty scooter for ¥2800, under Au$500, 40kph, a range (I'm told) of up to 70km, probably less in winter as
Julie, Peking Duck, Nanjing
Chinese teacher in Nanjing, at dinner with Steve & me
lower temperatures reduce the battery range, pretty impressive acceleration, pump, wheel lock, 6 months battery guarantee. I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out. Luyuan is a popular make here & there are thousands on the streets of Yangzhou alone. Compared to, as I remember, Au$1,800 in Australia for a small e-bike with a much less powerful motor & nowhere near as many features, I'm hoping it's a good investment. I let Martha take the 3 free non-stick saucepans as I don't have a hotplate in my room, just an electric frying pan / slow cooker. One good turn deserves another. That's guanxi. I keep the free umbrella.....
There are more photos below