China: first week in Jinhua

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September 10th 2014
Published: September 10th 2014
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Hongquiao Shanghai Railway StationHongquiao Shanghai Railway StationHongquiao Shanghai Railway Station

Madness at the train station on the way to Jinhua--zoom in on the other end of the hall and you can get an impression of the sheer volume of Chinese travellers.
HOT! DAMN HOT!! In my best Robin Williams 'Good Morning Vietnam' voice...that's how I'm responding to anyone who asks me "How are you, Mr. Jefferies?"

Not really, of course, that would be rude...however it IS damn hot: today, my first day back in the classroom, is 31-C 'feels like 45-C'; you may as well say '31-C, but feels like the surface of the sun'. Oh, and it's still and overcast...once in a while there will be a tantalising whisper of a breeze, but it's just an illusion to lull you into a sense of false 'non-sweating-ness' . Hopefully it will thunder tonight and provide a cooling downpour, but it doesn't take long to get back up to the 'tropical moist heat' temperature setting.

One of the best luggage inclusions I brought with me were two handkerchiefs which I use CONSTANTLY trying not to actually plop sweat globules onto unfortunate students. A bit embarrassing, saying, however, the department store is already putting out racks of down jackets, so they must know something they think I don't...the reality is, of course, that in a month or so, I'll be moaning about how cold it is...and it will be.

City Rental Bike ProgramCity Rental Bike ProgramCity Rental Bike Program

This is one of the differences I noticed since I was here before--there are quite a few city bike rental locations around town. It looks like you use a prepaid swipe card, pick-up and drop-off at any other location. Cool...
day back was good, albeit sweaty; but I think I've established that, so enough said, other than Belinda, my T/A translator passed out from the heat and I felt compelled to cut the class short. She is OK, apparently; I hope to see her back on her feet soon. It was great to see the faculty and staff from last time: even the Dean came by to welcome me back. Apparently the foreign teachers have their own office now, which is good, I guess. I would rather hang out with the regular faculty in the vain hope I might pick up a bit of Chinese. Regardless, it is a nice thought that we might want some 'foreigner' time, where, presumably we can swear and say bad things without anyone else hearing us. I am on my own until mid-October, so it's a bit of a moot point, really.

My class introductions where interesting, as always, as students struggle to get over their shyness telling you what their 'English' names are. I have four sections of roughly 160 students total, so there is zero chance of remembering their actual names, try as I might. Chinese students come up with interesting
'Reeboo Short Order' Fast Food Restaurant'Reeboo Short Order' Fast Food Restaurant'Reeboo Short Order' Fast Food Restaurant

This is the one I got most often: they are set up like a cafeteria--you take a tray, select your food and pay at the cash register. Fast, decent food, fresh and inexpensive.
names for themselves ranging from the mundane 'Sue' and 'Bob' to, I kid you not, 'Tomato'.

Here's how it went in the Intro session:

'Good Morning Mr. Jefferies. My name is Tomato.'

'Tomato? Really?'

'Yes! To-mato! Rhymes with PO-TARTO!!' laughs maniacally; as does the rest of the class...very funny...

I also have 'Blue', 'Wind', and 'Darth', who I REALLY have to keep an eye on...

Additional photos below
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'Reboo Short Order' lunch'Reboo Short Order' lunch
'Reboo Short Order' lunch

My first 'real' Chinese meal since coming back to Jinhua. Three dishes, rice and including a big frosty 'Snow' beer--five bucks, give or take...lunch and dinner selections are the same and the same price...

10th September 2014

Hi Merv, It all sounds strange and exciting. Our trips to buy plants and my leisurely wandering through VIU classes must seem very bland ,not to mention cool. This time last year I was in Normandy which was sunny and warm and full of growing vegetables. I hope you are getting enough greens in your wonderfully colourful lunch. We must be getting quite used to the look of Chinese retail here in Canada as your little café looks quite familiar. My first sortie into Man Lee's was confusing -such a mix of the familiar and the completely foreign. There is growing evidence that learning another language does wonders for the brain-it gets bigger especially for those who have a natural affinity with language learning. Obama's visit to Wales was given the usual sarcastic and patronising treatment by English newspapers but the American papers ( I think it was the Washington Post, not sure) were most complimentary to the Welsh. Time for today's reading. Keep well. Love mum
12th September 2014

Thanks Mum!
Yes-still warm here-supposed to moderate soon...
10th September 2014

Cycling Chaos
Just love your blog posts Merv, they gave me a much needed laff this morning. I have seen the same City Bike idea in London and I was nervous about embarking on chicken runs with Hackney cabs, the thought of cycling amongst the crazy Chinese drivers just fills me with dread. Please tell me you won't be pusuing that cheap run around town.
12th September 2014

No chance...
No--I'm too chicken to attempt cycling here--I see at least one accident pretty much every day--they are usually minor, but... Glad you like the blogs! More to come...
11th September 2014

Hi, Merv Love the names people give themselves. One of them at VIU named herself Summer because everyone likes it, makes sense to me. This brings back our fond memories of our too quick through a small bit of China. We thought it had some of the best food ever!! Enjoy and maybe your interpreter could have a spray bottle handy and on occasion douse herself and you. Keep that hankie handy. Bye for now A and R
12th September 2014

Glad you enjoyed the blog--I'm not sure a spray bottle would quite do it...:-)

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