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So it’s back to completing the trip down memory lane in China this morning…

IMG_1362So, apparently the Backstreet Boys heard that we were here and decided that they needed to get as close to the rock star AEB as they could. They will be playing in concert on Thursday at the Wutaishan Jinbang Gymnasium. It’s a big sports arena in our neighbourhood. It’s backs up to our complex. Last night there was a concert as well which started around 22:00 and ended around 1:00. Fortunately, there is an air-con in our bedroom and it did the trick to drown out the music and the throngs. We’ll see if does the same for the Boys on Thursday.

Last night found us having dinner with Lilly, Jang Guo, Caroline and a bunch of their friends and there was even a little boy, Jason, who attends the Foreign Languages school whom AEB could interact. He has little English, but children usually find a way of having fun around language barriers. What a feast! It was a true banquet Chinese style. More dishes than I could count: small shrimp, small lobsters (no not crawfish, I do know the difference), soup, scrambled egg with some sort of tree blossom, clear noodles and cabbage, some spicy hot tongue numbing noodle dish, a dish called tree ears, a catfish, soybean/cucumber and red bell pepper dish, corn and carrot, a host of other dishes and finally (when we were all just about too stuffed to move) boiled or perhaps steamed green veg dumplings. So tasty, but too many dishes!

Today found us at another art gallery, the old art gallery. It was opened some 70 years ago and houses more traditional pieces, and then more modern works – all by Chinese artists. I think the latest works came from the 1980s and the earliest were done before the USA was even thought of into being. Those particular pieces were saved by a famous Revolutionary and then later donated to the gallery and the People of China. These pieces are remarkable is so many ways. On the way home, AEB had a good question, “How did they hide them during that time”? Good question.

And today found me on the back of a motorised bike (for those Americans reading that’s a mo-ped, you remember the short lived fad of the 1970s when there was a gas shortage.) I felt like I’d arrived. That feeling having having done something the “natives do” and so you feel one step closer to being part of the world you are living in, which you aren’t and never will be because you’re not Chinese so you can’t possibly ever be part. I was on the hunt for a Thank You card for the teachers. Cards are not part of the common culture here. Tiny cards to go with flowers, maybe. But large cards the kinds that fill at least an isle or two at the market in the States or UK or elsewhere – no. Very difficult to find. However, Christina (whose bike I had ridden on the back of) and I found a stationery shop that had some that did what we needed even if the English didn’t really express what we would have preferred it to express. And while I was doing this mum was pick up AEB from what had been a very bad day at school.

I will say that our girl is a trooper. She may fuss and say she’s not going to go to school, but in the end she does and lets me kiss and hug her before I leave her for the day of being pulled here and there without really knowing what will happen. She’s still learning to figure out how to infer meaning by observation. It’s not easy, even as an adult, but it can be done. Today it was physical education that gave her the trouble. She came home almost in tears and very indignant about how she’d been grabbed and taken out of the class in a rough manner and left at the door of the gymnasium to sit there until class was over. Then her teacher came and, AEB told us, her teacher gave the gym teacher a good scolding. Now, our interest was peeked as to what the gym teacher’s true motives were and what went on during that episode. On her first day she had gym and it seemed to me that the gym teacher was going to be good sort and try to help AEB have the best time she could, so this account left me wondering what pieces we were missing. So, an email was sent off to Christina (we’re really giving her a work out while we’re here!) who in turn emails the head teacher to find out what’s what. The response is speculation and she’s get back to us once she’s spoken with the teacher and sorted things out so we can then tell our girl what was intended. And great relief and a sigh shook the earth – did you feel it?

perspective is everything:
Here’s what happened from the Chinese gym teacher’s perspective. When he arrived to the class there were many in the class being disruptive and naughty and so he let the few that were not causing any trouble out to play. AEB did not understand and so he took her out so she would not be punished with those who were to be reprimanded. So, the intent was to let her have the time to play and not punish her since she wasn’t causing trouble. Which is what her head teacher had thought was going on, but with the language barrier she hadn’t caught on and sat there all period having a miserable time. But what a relief for her to know that she wasn’t being punished, even if it was a day later.