My week, piece-by-piece
1. Yi ping pi jiu (a bottle of beer) - much of my time after class and during the weekend is spent drinking beer. A crate is £2.50! The alcohol content is enough to bouleverse your average Chinaman but hardly enough for a seasoned drinker.
2. San (umbrella) - for some reason, this week went like this: Cold and rainy; cold and rainy; cold and rainy; cold and rainy; cold and rainy; HOT! After writing this I'm going to the beach, in fact.
3. Tide - my washing powder.
4. Colgate toothpaste - the Chinese have a toothpaste brand here that is called 'Darky'. It says on the tube, 'To make your teeth as white as a Darky,' next to a picture of a top hat-wearing gollywog. I did not buy any.
5. The Punisher - my ping-pong paddle.
6. Kong - my xiangmao (bear-cat, a.k.a. a panda).
7. Headset - I nicked a headset from the language lab in retaliation for having been moved out of there into another classroom that can fit my classes. I also used it to record an example of how my News class's podcasts should sound.
8. Er ben shu (2 text books) - this is what I have to teach from. A combination of hefty discipline, creative lessons and eager students has meant I should be finishing the blue book within the next two weeks!
9. Kafei (coffee) - yes, yes, yes! It's like drinking a laid-back, velvet party. But hot.
10. My letters - they're sat on my desk ready to be sent as soon as I've found the post-office.
11. Tickets to see Avatar - one of my classes presented me with 3 tickets to go see Chinese Avatar this weekend!
12. Bank of China book - I now have an offshore bank account. Not sure how the Law Society will treat that one but I have one nonetheless. They gave me a little flash drive-sized dynamic password creator that changes one of the passwords to my account every 20 seconds. When I told her how much I wanted to deposit she upgraded me to a Gold Account. Not sure what that means but I get a special interest rate of 3.6% over 5 years. Who says centrally-planned banking doesn't work!
13. Tissues - I've had the sniffles. Being 3 hours from anywhere means Lemsip is hard to come by. One of my Juniors offered me ginger boiled in Coke.
14. My Easter card - the Dean received a letter from England the other day! I foolishly opened it during a break from class, resulting in being asked by a million students if I was OK. Love you, Nanas. I've corrected your spelling and sent it back.
15. Cheng-zi (orange) - now I know all of the names of the fruits, I go fruit shopping twice a week. The word for "kilo" translates as "2 half-kilos" and nobody knows why.
16. Postcards from Beijing - ready to be sent, Auntys!
17. Shantaram - another big thanks to El; this time for providing me with yet more light-reading.
18. My folder - I'm collecting everything ready for a huge scrap book-making session when I get back. I have bus and train tickets; receipts; marriage proposals; business cards...
19. My Chinese - I am slowly but surely learning Chinese. Every week I see a student called Queenie and she teaches me Chinese and I help her with the technical aspects of her English. She's invited me away for Labour Day. I have a hair appointment.
20. My iron - glorious, isn't it? I returned home from work the other day to find my bedroom smelled of steam. The iron had been left on. The kicker is: I hadn't used it. I think my landlady did. How Hayekian of me to expect collectivists to respect property rights. Needless to say, I've scattered a ring of talc powder around my ironing board and if I find even a single size 3 footprint...