Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Monday’s classes were cancelled so we could get our mandatory physical exams. A slick black car escorted us into the city where we met up with Pat, another foreign teacher, a kiwi in his 40s.

The Travellers’ Medical Center was packed to the gills with people: other foreigners getting examined, but mostly Chinese people looking to get visas to go abroad. The Kiwi, a really loud chap who I’m convinced suffers from some pop-psych abbreviation, probably OCD, made himself busy in picking up girls in the waiting room.

The medical exam first involves several pages of paperwork with questions like “Have you ever suffered from toxicomaniacal behavior” (public drunkeness, I figure) and “Are you of sound mind?” Then there was a blood test (I met the cutest British guys, teachers at the Dalian College of Translation, while they were holding their arms with cotton swabs. I gave one of them my e-mail address. I haven’t memorized my phone number yet.). Next was a chest X-ray, then a eye test, then a cargiogram of some kind, blood pressure and lung inspection and then I waited for the gentlemen in my party who had to go through another examinination I was exempt from. I was not give too many details as to what it was, but apparently the ordeal involved “getting molested by a guy not wearing any gloves.”

We came back to a feast hosted by Benny’s boss and his boss, a lady called Mary. Kiwi had two large beers and dominated the meal with squawking that made everyone feel uncomfortable (I heard later from Canuck that the Chinese present couldn’t understand a thing he said). Whenever anyone gives him the look of non-comprehension, instead of speaking slower, he just speaks louder.

Canuck and I have made a pact to look out for each other, in light of the other foreign teacher., Oddly enough, I think our compatibility comes not only from the fact that we’re North Americans, but also that we’re Chinese. But not Chinese Chinese. Old school Chinese. Old school as opposed to the way Chinese people are now, and that is different from the people in my family. Reflecting on this phenomenon, this is what I think happened: my generation’s parents left China a long time ago. They went to the US or Canada, or wherever, but because they were so different from their adopted country’s people, they lived in relative isolation and kept the values current to the time. In the mean time, China had a revolution, then things modernized. However, the values of the old Chinese were passed on (as much as they were) to the American (Canadian)-born first generation. A case of the “more Chinese than the Chinese.”

Anyway, Canuck’s a decent sort and I’m glad he’s around. And he really is kind of like a big brother. To hear him talk of his loathing for dust (complete with scrunched up facial expressions) only reminds me of my mother talking about something like ugly babies or Mormons.

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