Sunday, 22 August 2004


a post from cerebus:

well, the summer session is winding to an end, which means the holidays are almost over and the kids are getting ready to go back to normal schools. worked out in class the other day they go to school about 43 hours per week compared to an average SA time of around 30hours. they have school on saturdays as well, and in their free time they go to lessons. maths, english, advanced computational arithmetic, that kinda thing. high school is even worse. no wonder, when polled, the most popular free time activity in china is sleeping.

the airconditioning is broken in the teachers room, and has been for a few days, which means sitting here feels like sitting in church on a sunday morning in summer in SA waiting, nay... praying, for the dominee to lift his hands and do that blessing thing... my hands feel strange.

we're listening to a compilation of western songs, possibly too loudly... at thew moment coldplay. sometimes when i walk out of here i get this sensation suddenly of: "oh right, i'm in china."

nothing new around here. earlier had to do a placement interview for a kid, to see which classes she should attend. in four seconds i knew where she should go: level 0. but then, to keep the capitalist system happy (i.e. the paying customer) i had to shoot the breeze with this kid for at least five minutes, during which i established that she knows exactly four english words and possibly a little bit of chinese too.

strange how the kids sometimes clam up in class. i wonder if that happens in normal school as well. you can ask them something (usually "read that bit...") and they'd do 4 words fine and get to one they've not seen before and they freeze up. they just stand therein complete sullen paralysis and not even when you say something to them in chinese do they respond. nada. it's like coaxing a kitten out of a tree.

running out of money, so the weekend will be quiet, with another little bike trip scheduled for monday. this time we plan to go west... see if we can reach the river. my brain is shrivelling from lack of decent reading material. i found "to kill a mockingbird" in the school but the offspring appropriated it. saw a murakami at the foreign languages bookstore.

i wonder how many "foreign language" things there are in xi'an. theFL institute, acadamy, university, school, committee, you name it, we've got it. but whether it has anything to do with actual foreign languages i seriously doubt. maybe it means they've heard of this whole foreign language concept and just want to let the world knowthey don't hold with it, thank you very much. because god knows theycan't speak none.

found a brilliant xinjiang restaurant yesterday, open-aired place, doing all kinds of muslim-meat dishes, mostly bbq-ed meat sticks and this thing they call a dumpling but which is really just a steak and kidney pie. they also have excellent ding ding chao mien, for the vegetarians out there. (lit. little bits of fried noodles... tastes italian.) walking distance from home, too.

okay, thats it. just saw the US is overtaking china in the medalsrace at the olympics. need a cigarette. (these two things are notentirely unrelated.)

au voir.

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