Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Your name is WHAT? part 3

My students did a group exercise today. I paired them up. That's how Kinky met Virtuous.

I'm a dinosaur

Four times over the past weeks, I have walked into a tech shop to buy a CD player. Four times I have left empty-handed.

My most recent encounter with a tech sales person started off with a brisk walk to the Ipod docking stations.

-No, no, I said. CDs, not Ipod.

-Oh, but you not put your CD’s on your Ipod?

I don’t have an Ipod. (this isn’t strictly true, I just find it tiresome to use) …and I don’t want one, just a CD player.

Next we ended up by the DVD players.

-Here, CD player.

-That’s a DVD player.

-Yes, play CD also!

- Do you have one that’s JUST a CD player?

- So…you have DVD player already?

- No, I don’t want one.

- Why you not want DVD player?

- I don’t have a TV.

At this point the salesperson stared at me like I was from outer space.

- We have very good offer. TV, DVD, Ipod player blblblablabla…play CD also!

- But that’s like buying a car to light a cigarette.

…and saying this I realised that there is no chance in hell that the sales boy and I would ever understand each other…and I would NEVER leave that shop with a normal CD player. I left empty-handed again.

On a different note: Do cars still come with lighters or have the NO SMOKING police put a stop to this as well? The way they put their noses into everything, you’d almost think smoking was bad for you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A toilet balancing act

When Chinese girls use "proper" toilets, they step up onto the toilet seat and squat. I know this because there are always footprints, or shoe prints rather, on toilet seats in Hong Kong. I don’t really understand the point in doing this. I am, however, rather impressed with their balance. If I had to balance my heal clad size 40s on an 8 cm slippery surface, I think we'd see many pairs of silk shoes being ruined by toilet water (or worse)...especially in the wee (!) hours of the morning.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hearing voices

Have you noticed how it’s become ok to talk to yourself in public? When I grew up, back when dinosaurs roamed, we used to laugh and point fingers at those crazy old men carrying on with their monologues. I can’t remember last time I saw one of those loonies. I don't think they have all gone away. I think it is more the case that we no longer react to this phenomenon as half of us are now walking around with a Bluetooth device stuck in our ear.

I only thought of this just now as my friend Snaskefar is going off his blog for a few days but says he intends to carry-on with an “oral live blog” instead. I asked him if the correct term for this isn’t just “talking”? The difference, it seems, is that when you are keeping up an “oral live blog”, you are not to be interrupted.

I was about to ask Snaskefar if there’s any chance he’s one of those nutcase monologue people…only to realise that if this is the case, no one will ever know!

Sleeping with Mao

More on t-shirts...
You might recall that a few months ago I went to my first ever rock festival. My main concern at the time was finding something suitable to wear. My closet is not exactly full of rock festival clothing (not that I knew what that was).

I ended up wearing a, for the occasion purchased, t-shirt featuring a big picture of Mao. I think flashing Mao’s image is about as tasteless as walking around with a swastika on your forehead, but I had two good reasons:

-I thought I would fit right in! Surely Swedish rock festivals are full of communist teenagers?

- It could be a very good conversation starter.

I imagined the conversation to go something like this:

- So you like Mao, hu!
- No, absolutely not!
- Then why are you wearing that t-shirt?
- Because I find it ironic that the biggest icons of communist history have been turned into fashion symbols to increase the wealth of the very same capitalists that people such as Mao fought to eliminate. (In this case Mr Tang of Shanghai)

The problem was that I didn’t meet anyone sober enough to understand that last part…and eventually I wasn’t sober enough to explain it. I ended up being just another communist chick.

Only my friend Hans could see beyond Mao’s face. He took one look at my t-shirt and said:

-Nice boobs!

My Mao t-shirt’s rock festival days are over – it is now sleepwear for all those chilly Hong Kong nights known as “Air Conditioning”.

I saw this t-shirt...

...saying "Che was a murderer and your t-shirt is stupid"

I think that was a good t-shirt.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The nice hypocrite

I have been known to voice my opinion on what not to eat. I generally include shark fin soup, foie gras and whale.

However, it wasn't that long ago I happily gobbled down baby tuna sashimi. I frequently complain about not being able to buy wild salmon in the supermarket. I will not buy foie gras, but if someone else has already committed that sin, then if offered I will devour the dish with great pleasure.

So does this make me a hypocrite? Hell yeah…but I rather like the life philosophy that “wrongs aren't wrong if done by nice people like myself”.

Who needs sustenance anyway?

Any Westerner, trained in the intricacies of etiquette commonly referred to as “good manners” knows not to serve oneself food until all one's guests have filled their plates.

Any self-respecting Chinese person would rather be caught dead than serve themselves food before their teacher has had his or her share.

So there we all sit while the food is getting cold, slowly starving to death...but at least we’re not being rude.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Taking yourself too seriously?

Some years ago, my friend C spotted Jim Courier in a bar in Wanchai. Jimmie boy had had a bad, bad tournament and was commisserating.

C, in the spirit of cheering Mr Courier up, approched him and said:

"Hey Jim, I'm a tennis coach here in Hong KOng. I could give you a few pointers."

Mr Courier, being an American, did not get the funny in this and replied:

"Just you keep drinking your beer, Sonny!'

C thinking that this was unusally arrogant, even for a yank, proceeded to ask a girlfriend for a favour.

Next person to approach Jimmie was a pretty Asian girl saying:

"Sorry Boris - could I have your autograph?"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Captivate your audience

Consider beginning all your statements with "well, it's illegal now but..."

This week..

...I bought 2 new mobile phones as Gweilo first ate my old one, then my brand new one. I yelled at him of course. He gave me the "what?! what are you going to do? You've already had my balls cut off!" look.

I met my new friend K again. He is half Northern Irish Catholic, half Tunisian…which sparks the question: …so did your parents meet in terrorist summer camp or something? He’s a good sport about it!

I received 12 moon cakes from my students. I think moon cakes are nice but a tiny slice at a time is plenty.

I found a lovely flat – way too expensive for me really but as I told my manager…if I need a supplementary income, I can always go back into stripping. It’s very lucrative.

My divorce papers came through. My divorce cost less than H$600 and once the papers were sent off, took less than 3 weeks. Thank you very nice!

So a very good week all things considered! It’s bank holiday weekend and I have NO plans! I like it!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Your name is WHAT part 2

Today I met a girl called Kinky. I wonder if she knows Wanker?

Looking for a shoe box

Flat hunting in Hong Kong can be quite depressing. I've had to add new criteria to my search.

  • It can't smell like feet!
  • The kitchen/bathroom must have been renovated at least once in the past 50 years.
  • I need to have enough space to turn around in the flat, not having to walk in and back out!
  • The bedroom has to be big enough for me to sleep straight. You might think I'm kidding but I viewed a flat this morning where the bedroom was about 1.30m * 1.60m (I'm 1.73m). The estate agent suggested that I sleep diagonally across the room.

Perhaps I am just being difficult. More flat hunting on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Catch 22 in telecom-ish

When I visited Sweden this summer I walked into the local telecoms shop to get mobile internet. I had planned to buy a modem and the refill card that would allow me to pay for a week of internet access at a time.

Sweden uses a very clever personal ID number system, which allows for information such as your income, address, credit worthiness etc to be accessed. I have one of course, but since I have emigrated, there's no address registered in my file.

This has never before been a problem. However, Telia's summer campaign for mobile internet worked as follows:

1. You can rent a modem and buy a week-by-week refill card.
2. You can buy a modem and sign up for a month-by-month subscription.
3. You can only buy a week-by-week refill card if you rent a modem
and in addition
4. You can not rent a modem unless you have a Swedish address or can supply a passport number of your FOREIGN passport.
5. You can not sign up for a month-by-month subscription unless you have a Swedish address or can supply a passport number of your FOREIGN passport.

Nor did they have a gun so I couldn't even shoot myself.

Is it me?

I am not getting through to people any longer. I don't know what I am doing wrong.

In India I had the following conversation:

I would like a taxi driver for the day, please. I am going to Khan Market for a few hours, then Imperial Hotel for lunch, then back here.

Ok, so you can visit the Red Fort in the morning.

No, I only want to go to Khan Market and Imperial Hotel

But you have time to visit the Red Fort.

Yes, but I don't want to.

But there's plenty of time, it's berry berry interesting.

I only want to go to Khan Market and Imperial Hotel.

If you leave at 8.30, 2 hours at Red Fort, then your driver will take you anywhere. It's all included in the price.

Thank you. I only want to go to Khan Market and Imperial Hotel.

So you don't want to go to the Red Fort?


Are you sure, it won't cost extra.

Thank you, I'm sure.

I am now viewing flats. My main criteria is UNFURNISHED. Otherwise I'm easy. This morning I viewed a flat in Sheung Wan.

This flat is furnished.

Yes, you want unfurnished?

Yes, it says so right there in your papers.

But the furniture is very nice. Very contemporary.

Yes, but I already have furniture.

Maybe you can fit your furniture too?

No chance. Can they remove the furniture?

Oh, no can do. Why don't you sell your furniture.

No, I like them.

Ok-la. I have one more apartment in this building. Let's go see!


5 min later.

This flat is furnished

...(feel free to continue the dialogue - I have no strenght left)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Your name is WHAT?

Some Chinese people are kind enough to pick an English name so that we dumb westerners can say their names. There are lots of Kellys, Hayleys, Joes and Jacks in my classes. There are also some unusual versions such as Milk, and her friend Sugar (really wish we had a Tea so I could get them to do group work). Human is a student of mine, and so is Elephant. However, my favourite student is a boy called Wanker.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I survived India

...and returned with some amazing memories, a cold, and what I suspect is a stomach parasite, which is currently making my life interesting.

I will post photos but as I have now also started working, my blog will have some downtime until I get into my new routine.

So far my new job is going well. My students have dubbed me "the pretty teacher", which is nice. When called "Barbie" though I had to point out that I am really more like Barbie's ugly cousin...and that I respond much better to bribes than flattery.