Friday, 3 September 2004

brief van my vakansie

PS: (Pre-scriptum?) Post jy ook fotos op yahoo. Ek kan niks hier sien nie.


(To my shame this is an email that I've slightly edited to work in
this group-context... I know it sounds exotic being in China, and my
excuses sound lame, but writing email is somehow quite hard here.
There's a lethargy-virus going around, I think.)

I watched a DVD I brought along from home the other day (showing off
to someone foreign) called "Clowns", made in Cape Town by a guy I
vaguely want to claim to know. Well, the story still sucked, but it's
a good demo for what the local industry has to offer, and it was
surprisingly nostalgic to see the mountain and the streets and the
infantile sense of dramatic development so intrinsically South
African. Nice music, too. (This apropos a big film shooting
apparently happening in Cape Town, featuring Nicolas Cage and mobile
suburbs called motorhomes.)

E-Tv is apparently showing Bond-movies, again...
Of course, here I can get the entire Bond series in one go, if I just
didn't feel so damned lethargic. The atmosphere here must do
something to a person's mind. I have all this free time, but no
desire to do much at all.

Monday and Tuesday we went to a holiday-resort/hotel just outside
Xi'an as a sort of team-building/end-of-term function. They have a
heated pool, and bumper cars, bowling, ostriches, camels, little boat
thingies, and GOKARTING on a full sized racing track. So naturally I
opted for the bowling, which proved much more technical than I (a
card-carrying bowling virgin) would have expected.

No, I obvisouly spent more time go-karting: could easily reach a
hundred kph. Terribly hard-core. Simon wanted to go to, and they gave
him a smaller, slower one and I had to loose the bowling to restore
his confidence after that race.

It was great, and it felt like being in civilization again for a
while, except that chinese business acumen still ruled: you had to
pay R20 just to SIT in the foyer, and with a token at that. so you
have to go to an obscure little room, buy tokens, take the receipt to
the reception desk to get it stamped and then take that back to get
your token, which you then immediately give to the same women in
exchange for your seat. nothing is easy here.

Last Saturday me and Simon went to a concert with four really famous
Hong Kong and Taiwan bands (the "province" of Taiwan, you
understand...) and that also showed up some spectacular anality, if
that's even a real word.

Have a look here:

Cowboy Dick. Hehehe. Jacky chan was in town, but rumours of him
taking part in the concert were greatly exagerated.

I thought we were getting free tickets. Not so, we were being
smuggled in by an off-duty policeman with more ID cards than is
healthy. This meant everywhere we went, trailing behind this
demunitive dwarf, we were met by hostile security cards demanding our
immediate removal from the premises, and of course demanding this
from me since I looked like the only adult person in the groups. Then
this little man had to produce cards from various places and flash
them around and gradually, but grudgingly we would be waved through
to the next checkpoint. Getting into this concert was hell on my
nerves, because I felt like I was shielding the offspring from all
this aggression every step of the way, but he found it interesting.
When we eventually sat down (after climbing a million stairs 100%
occupied by sitting people who refused to budge) everyone broke into
smiles as if nothing had happened. Everyone assured me everything was
absolutely okay.

The concert itself: well, imagine the likes of the Backstreet Boys
and Britney Spears, only you have some kind of aphasia which means
you cannot understand a single word at all... (probably a stroke of
mercy) amazing how absolutely blank and bland something so huge and
busy can be. Like watching a slide show of someone's holiday in erm

Many many policemen, as well. And no standing... the field was packed
with neat rows of chairs, and about a thousand cops had to run around
all the time getting people to sit. I mentioned this to my teaching
assistant, who was with us, and she said otherwise the people would
become too boisterous and it would be dangerous. When I told her that
in SA and elsewhere people all stood up in the front, and when you
get tired you move to the back to sit down, she didn't believe me. At
last she said that, well, Chinese people aren't so well behaved. In
my opinion everything that is now complete chaos in China, would sort
itself out if the police just backed off a little and give people the
respect they get elsewhere. They always assume the worst. That's the
condition on the roads as well: here people function in a state of
paranoia, where in the West we operate on assumptions. (Not very
clear, I know, but just a fleeting impression.)

Therefore queues are unknown here: every man, woman and child for
themselves. No respect. They expect constantly everyone is out to
beat them, get them, cheat them or run them over. It is tedious to
wait for your change to be returned, when they want to count it twice
and expect of you to stand there counting it in front of them again.
This to show their commitment to being honest, which I appreciate,
but one gets the feeling the lady doth protesteth too much.

Reading Haruki Murakami's Underground, about Japan, but chillingly
applicable. Also a terribly disturbing book, once it sinks in, for
all its subtelty... recommended.

Might go flying next week... Rick went out to test the 4 seater Yak
T18A he usually flies, and he said he couldn't even go the length of
the runway. Engine just would not get up to full power. so after
repairs this week we might try next week. He'll just have to test-fly
it alone first. I offered to take over this tedious chore, but he is
a fastidious guy and insists on taking all that terrible
responsibility upon himself, bless him.

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