Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Things are as usual: work, study, work, study, work, study. There is also a fair amount of pretending to studying and thinking about studying.

The beginning of the month saw the national May 1 holiday, and like many a jaded foreigner in China, I opted out of fighting the travelling crowds and stayed in Beijing. (More than that, three-fourths of my students were in town, so I had to work.) There was much to do and see in the capital this year, anyhow. The Dashanzi art district hosted a huge international art festival, and the Midi school, the school in China for rock music, put together a week long event out in Haidian. Artists from all over the world, including Korea, Taiwan, Spain and England performed.

Michael, the new roomie, and I schlepped it over to Haidian park on the first day. The music was alright and the dark beer, at just 8 RMB per clear plastic cup, was even better.

After the festival, we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Beijing. It's a hole in the wall in central Beijing, on a main road in the northern hutong (traditional housing) area. The place has amazing jiao zi (dumplings), including a number of su de (vegetarian) choices--the mushroom and egg jiao zi can find no equal.

It's a bit weird having another hapa around. There's an awful lot of "well, you're hair is more Chinese than mine, but my eyes are more almond shaped..." and "your parents don't get along either?!" Also, since having Michael around, I see that I really am Chinese in some ways. We went grocery shopping the other day, which is quite cool because Michael is a cook, and I realized, because he is, that I am equally comfortable in the dairy section, as well as in the spice/sauce/and dried things that look like twigs section. Michael is as just as at ease in the open market as in the chain supermarket, as I am, and unlike my very white French roommate, he has no qualms about haggling, squeezing the produce, nor buying green vegetables, whose English names we are not quite sure of, but are quite confident that they're probably just fine to eat.

At the restaurant we went to, aforementioned, Michael saw two old men squawking over a bowl of stewed bones. "I want that," Michael said shameless pointing to the men's table, and within minutes, out came the xiaojie (waitress) with a big bowl of beef bones, complete with plastic glove and drinking straw to get into the crevices. Michael went straight to work on the marrow with the gusto I believe to be reserved only for those with Sinic blood in their veins. Then, in his scouse brogue he said with satisfaction, "That's lovely."

That's Michael. (I don't really think he's looks very Chinese, not as much as me, at least.)

In other news, I did not get the job with the international school. They shot me down quick--not even an interview. But, however, the British Council came through, and last Saturday was my first day. It's an OK gig. I just give interviews to painfully nervous Chinese people, for whom the test often dictates their immediate success or near future plans. The cool thing is the job will send me to different cities soon. I am looking forward to that.

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