Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tai Ji or not Tai Ji

So much for my daily update schedule. The network switch in our building died, and somebody forgot to plug me back in when they replaced it. I suspected this about a week ago, and all I had to do to get it fixed was endure this process about twenty times:

Helpful student: I will look at your computer for you!
Me: Okay, but its not my computer, the network cable is unplugged, and seeing as it is plugged in at my end...
Helpful student: Okay! I will look at your computer.
Me: Whatever
Helpful student: I cannot find the problem
Me: See, as I was explaining, if you'll show me where the other end of this network cable leads, I can probably just...
Helpful student: I will ask (name of another helpful student) to fix! He will come tomorrow
Me: okay, but if you'll just show me where the other end of this network cable is so that I can check and see if...
Helpful student: okay! See you tomorrow!

Eventually I got adventurous enough to start opening cabinets in my building at random, found the switch, found my cable dangling folornly and unplugged, replugged it and I'M BACK.


In my continued quest to provide the Chinese with amusing western buffonery to guffaw at, I have started learning Taiji quan (that's Tai Chi to you foreign devils) at a park near my school. This has meant I've spent around 10 hours this week, under the noon-day sun, rediscovering my complete lack of balance and co-ordination, while a small but stern Chinese man, (with crazy manga hair), imparts unto me the collective wisdom of a thousand years of tradition and mastery of this art. Of course, the imparting is all done in Chinese, so all I know is it has to do with thighs and hands and pointing at your nose a lot. 10 hours in, I have almost managed to competently perform such tasks as 'walking' and 'holding an invisible pot'. I think this qualifies me for the lowest rank in taiji - 'retarded mime'. Wang Shir-Fu (Master Wang) actually asked my name the other day, I guess that's progress.

Anyway, turns out “laowai using a public park to trample upon our ancient and cherished traditions with his inept bumbling” is a reasonably popular form of entertainment amongst Chinese people of retirement age, so every time I'm there, a crowd of onlookers gathers (usually about 10 cms from my face) to gawk and point. Apparently, (I was only told a day or two later) on one occasion, these gawkers included the mayor of Liaoyang and his media entourage, who apparently thought that my antics were worthy of that spot at the end of the news where they usually show a water-skiing squirrel or something.

Take that everybody who's never appeared on a regional Chinese television station.

In other news, I still seem to be waking up every morning and finding myself in China, a point that is usually driven home by the fact that its 5.30 am and there's an artillery barrage going on outside my window. It's 'golden month' at the moment, a popular time for weddings and amongst those who deal in pyrotechnics.

Saw a policeman and a guy having a tussle over a bicycle today, it was kind of comical (especially if you imagined silent movie music in the background, which I recommend you always, always do) I didn't hang around to see how it played out, but as I was walking by a car full of police showed up and joined the fray. I'm sure they had a frank and amicable discussion, uncovered the misunderstanding at the heart of the issue, all had a good laugh, and went their seperate ways in good spirits. The police all had batons, so I assume they were organising a relay of some sort, and wanted the bike guy to participate.

What a lot of writing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to see your keeping the masses entertained Mr. Dog.

Don't let the students benevolence get in the way of a good 'ol face smacking when they can't help you. Don't worry...they'll be used to it.

"Who's the man!?" is all you have to repeat to yourself.