So the last full week of living in China beings. And, to be honest, I’m ready for it to be over. Don’t get me wrong, I could easily take up a job here and be content (hegemony not withstanding), but since I haven’t my mind set is different than it would be if we were gearing up for an entire year or so living and making a home here. But it’s time to, as Bilbo Baggins put it, “turn our wandering feet home”. I know AEB is ready. She misses her kitty cats and her friends and her new old house. She misses her routine, she misses the foods that she likes best. The stove top/ cooking skillet with cheese that doesn’t melt properly just ain’t cutting it, for me either truth be told. She’s been great about trying things, but the things that I bought she’d like (the wonderful boa zi and jiao zi you can get in little alley ways and hole-in-the-wall shops here) she hasn’t really been keen on. She has enjoyed the fish, even when displayed with head and all. She’s enjoyed some of the pork dishes and some of the vegetables, but on the whole it’s been an odd eating experience for her. I, on the other hand, have gorged myself on all the wonderful things not readily available back in the western world. Without the daily exercise of a bicycle (yes, I’m bitter about the whole not getting to have one) and even with the multiple trips up and down six flights of stairs will be coming home no thinner than I left. I still fit in my clothes, so it’s all good.
Yesterday was the day for the dragon boat races at Mochou Lake. We hopped on a bus and found a group from the Johns Hopkins Center at Nanjing University (Nan Da) going to cheer on their team of rowers. The young lady I was speaking with was under the impression that Hopkins was in Washington, D.C. It’s near D.C., but not in D.C. I guess the centre has chosen not to correct this idea since D.C. is perhaps internationally better known than Baltimore, where the university is actually located. It was futile to get her to understand so I didn’t even try. In the group was also a young professor there to teacher forensic criminology at Nan Da for the summer. He’s from Quebec, but teaches in Alberta. You meet very interesting folk when you’re out having adventures. When we got to the park/lake it seemed that every expat in Nanjing was out and about. I haven’t seen that many western faces all in one place since arriving. It was rather surreal hearing all that English and German and French and Chinese in one place. We saw the first heat and there was a about a half hour break until the next one so we wandered the grounds and walked around the lake under the old walkways along the bank of the lake. We stopped and had our packed lunch near a small stage. While we were eating three young ladies got up and started doing a performance with violins – dancing and playing. I think they were playing to a prerecorded CD. It was from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. If they weren’t playing they were at least faking it pretty well. I wasn’t near enough or up there long enough to scrutinise the performance. When the next heat was called to start the Hopkins/Nan Da group led their group with a flag and headed to the boats. As their team rowed out to the starting point the drum beat the rhythm of the strokes and they all sang, “God Save the Queen”, which I suppose is a bit ironic since Hopkins is in the USA. I joined in from the sidelines while AEB tried to stop me. They won, their strategy was very smart. They started out with a good steady stroke and then as they got to the half way flags they sped up the strokes and pressed on forward so that when they won they won by a good two boat lengths ahead of the other expat boat that was in the race. It was good fun, but our girl was rather tired of watching the boats so we moved on to look at the huge lotus blossoms and lily pad leaves in one of the smaller ponds around the grounds. Then we hopped the bus hopped the bus back “home”.