Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's been a while....what's new in Guangzhou?

Well, Blog title, I'm glad you asked that. I'm sure that out there somewhere my throngs of admirers have been weeping softly to themselves, crying out in their lonliness and wondering how a month without Ben Gulley posting could possibly exist in a world with a loving and benevolent god. Then they remember that it is often darkest just before dawn, and sure enough the rosy glow of my prose comes peaking over the horizon. Hope is once again restored, like an oasis in the middle of the Sahara. Then everyone realizes that the whole "darkest before dawn" saying isn't's actually significantly lighter right before dawn than it is during the middle of the night. Then comes the awakening comprehension that the "throngs" are actually a handful of my friends and family...and that the "weeping" and "questioning the existence of a loving and benevolent god" is actually a vague, tepid apathy. Then I also realize that I ripped off the opening gag from Matt Wilson.

Just a second, I need my checklist...let's see here...

Self-aggrandizement: check
Self-deprecation: check
Actually saying something of substance and worth:...nuts.

So, I'm back in Guangzhou, and I've settled pretty well back into old routines. Unlike the rest of you, spring has already come to Guangzhou in full force. Unfortunately in Guangzhou, spring is the rainy season. I'm not sure how many of you have actually lived in a place with a proper rainy season, but it's not quite what you imagined. Okay, scratch that, it is what you imagined, it's a season where it rains a lot. What I meant was, it's one thing to know about it academically and quite another to live a life where things are never dry. In the 3 weeks I've been back I've seen the sun maybe twice, and it was really hazy one of those times. Combine that with daily rainfall and a humidity rating that would give a lake a run for it's money, and you've got a recipe for general unhappiness. Especially when you consider that everyone has to hang their clothes out to dry and the fact that I've been wearing damp trousers for the past fortnight.

Another fun harbinger of spring is the condensation on everything. Even when it's not raining, every surface of the school has a layer of mist or dew on it. Fortunately, whoever built the school had the foresight to install extra-slick linoleum everywhere to ensure the maximum amount of slipping and sliding. Going from class to class elevated from kind of boring to deadly in a moment. Apparently this is the sign that spring is here for good.

One last thing before I bow out this time. On my 3rd day back I was sitting in a restaraunt with another teacher here, and I mentioned that I won't have as many stories this time around because I'm much more used to China's insanity. "Oh ho!", thought the suddenly anthropomorphic country, "A challenge!" The next thing I knew, a monk had walked in and approached my table. He put a pamphlet down and started talking to me very quickly (whatever it was, he was trying to sell me something for 180 yuan...that much I understood). After a while I just said, "Ting bu dong," which means, "I don't understand". I repeated this while he continued talking to me, and after 5 minutes he finally accepted the limits of my language ability. But, if you can say one thing about this monk, he was persistant. Undaunted by the language barrier, he abandoned his native tongue for pantomime. And the pantomime consisted of:
a). Touching my kidney.
b). Pointing at my crotch
c). Giving me a thumbs up.
So, imagine a monk repeating these three gestures over and over, with the crotch point (already too close for comfort) getting dangerously closer each time. I reiterated my previous not-understanding point over and over, but he could tell I was scared. The blood was already in the water and I was chum. Finally the owners of the establishment chased him out and the meal continued in peace. Never before have I been so curious and yet so afraid of what someone has said to me.

So yeah, China: 1, Ben: 0

At least my crotch is apparently a-okay.

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