I went out a few Saturday nights ago to Changsha, and the next morning I decided to take the first bus back, because I hadn’t found a place to sleep the night before, and the music show I went to lasted almost all night. Well, I went and stood near the bus stop around 5h30 in the morning, to catch the bus to the train station. There were about three other people there waiting, and all of a sudden they ran away from the bus stop. I stopped to look at them and wonder, but by the time I was about to turn back around I realized why. A street washing truck came whizzing by and sprayed me waist down with a ton of dirty road water. I almost went back to Freedom House to stand near a heater to get dry, but I was tired so I just decided to brave the wet. The bus came and brought me to the train station where there was a guy trying to get people to get on his bus to Liuyang. I almost did but then I thought better of it and went to the east bus station where the real Liuyang buses are. In China, always go where most of the people are going, or you will probably find yourself in a lot of trouble or getting severely ripped off!
There was one bus waiting at the real bus station, so I got on to wait for it to fill up and leave. I got on and realized I was the only girl out of about 30 old men. They all stopped talking and stared at me, then a rotund old Chinese man got on the bus and sat down next to me. They put an English Jet Li movie on the bus’s TV, and they were all asking me if I understood what they were saying in the film. When I told them yes they all laughed and clapped and asked if we Americans like China’s wonderful awesome Jet Li. I told them ‘Oh yes, very much. We think he is very awesome.’ After the bus filled up with more old men, and just me sitting near the back next to the stout old man, the movie got a little graphic. On of the opening scenes were two French prostitutes doing their thing with a Chinese business man (who got killed by the bad guys anyway). The bus was dead quiet during this scene, not surprisingly. I was thoroughly embarrassed to be the only girl on the bus, much less the only foreign girl, and stared out the window with my big hood on until Jet Li came in and ninja-ed everyone in the scene!
The past couple of weeks have been quiet except for that one strange Sunday morning. In my classes, everything has been as it always is, except I developed a good punishment for students who cheat when we are playing games.
There is one game that we play at the beginning of the class to get the kids thinking in English. A group of three girls and three boys come up to the board and have to write all the words they can think of that begin with a certain letter. Last week was ‘P’, and I always give them a minute or two to look in their books and try to remember how to spell the words. Well, some of the students like to take this minute to write all the ‘p’ words they can on their hand, or on tiny pieces of paper. At first I didn’t catch on, and I would just tell the students sitting down to close their books and not yell words at the kids who came up to the board, but then I realized that the kids at the board would be crowding around something and writing one letter at a time. I stopped the game and one of the kids craftily tossed a piece of paper into the trash bin behind him, thinking I didn’t notice. Well sure enough there was a tiny page of the dictionary in the English book ripped out with all the ‘p’ words on it. I told them all to sit down and gave the boy’s team a big 0 and erased all their words, and the girls got 6 points.
Then I went up to the kid that had ripped out the paper and opened his English book and wrote at the top of the first page ‘C-H-E-A-T’. I told him that next week he had better know the meaning of this word, and that before we did anything in class, he must come up to the front of the class and tell everyone what the meaning of the word is and why he has to tell them. He was horrified and was very quiet for the rest of the class.
It worked so well, that in all my classes, whenever a kid writes on their hands or has pieces of paper, I write the word on their books and have them look it up. Less and less students are trying to pull the wool over Miss Lamb’s eyes!
I think I haven’t mentioned this, but every day at about 5 o clock, Kenny G – Breathless starts blaring over the school’s loudspeakers, followed by a piano rendition of ‘sound of silence’. Now every time I think of the sun setting over Xinwen School, it’ll be haunted by that cheesy faux-emotional saxophone that I’ve grown to oddly appreciate…..
Also, I’ve realized that interrupting people is not frowned upon here, actually downright talking right over someone who is talking isn’t considered rude at all, it seems. At first I would get really annoyed, but now I just stop talking and wait till the person runs out of breath. Pushing, shoving and hocking up big chunks of mucus are also completely fine here, as well as openly staring at anything abnormal (yes, foreigners, but also anything else, like a one-legged man).
I have been on a missing-western-food kick lately, I don’t know why, since I am perfectly happy with the rice and pork and cabbage and puppy dog that I’ve been eating at school. I’ve been dreaming of chocolate cake and quiche and pumpkin pie and bagels with cream cheese and egg sandwiches and tasty camembert cheese and cheddar cheese…….I could go on
Since it is winter time, I always where my heavy winter jacket. I quickly developed a great system. I don’t have to change my clothes every day, since they are always covered by my winter jacket, and I don’t have to shower every day since I’m not sweating from the heat. Anyway, it’s way to cold to shower! It’s really an excellent system!! (hehehe….)
One more thing I forgot to add: I’ve joined a Taekwondo school here. Well, rather I was told I could join for free by the Taekwondo teacher at Xinwen school. It is a place downtown that is mainly attended by really little kids. In fact, I’ve been to two classes already and one of my tiny first graders is in the class. She thought it was hilarious that I was there and couldnt stop looking at me and giggling and getting in trouble with the instructor. It’s great though because there are very few people in each class, maybe 4, and there is a group of guys who get paid to teach there I guess, and they are always hanging around. So its almost one teacher per student! My muscles are aching, but it feels so good to be doing a martial art again! (Especially on tuesdays…..i can get all that anger at those 2nd graders out…) 🙂
That’s all for now, this week is gonna be pretty regular. I might go to Changsha this weekend, or I’ll save my money for Christmas. The school is giving me Christmas Eve and Day off, so I will probably go have a western feast in a hotel somewhere in Changsha with the other foreign teachers! That’ll be my next entry I suppose!
Merry Almost Christmas!!!!