Updated on the 15th of every month
I guess the best way to convey the sensation of being in China is to relate a little experience I had here, one weekend when the sun was shining, and unlike Canada, the ground was completely free of snow.
I was hiking up a small mountain with another Canadian, he being tall of height and thin of build. This mountain is admirably located next to the sea, and you can see the shrimp boats scraping the ocean of delicious seafood delights. We got up to one particularly nice lookout where there is a concrete platform so that you can have an unobstructed view of the ocean, and the beach, and several little islands nearby. Unfortunately, the view is totally, irrevocably obscured by plastic statues: one of a brontosaurus attacked by velociraptors, next to a giant head of lettuce (Romaine, I think), next to a giant cow being 'suckled' by giant calves.
It's one of those 'What the-!' scenarios that really take your breath away.
But don't assume that this was a one-time encounter, and that maybe it was some religious tribute to a 1930's alien landing site...no, this is China, and this occurs everywhere. The week before I had hiked in a park that happens to be deliciously close to my apartment; walking up a hill overlooking the sea, I stumbled upon a stone sculpture of a giant octopus attacking a giant shark. As if people climbing mountains are always plagued by debates over oceanic battle scenarios.
"Hmmm, the view is wonderful. But I wonder who would win in a fight? A shark or an octopus?" I would mumble, wiping the drool from my thick retard lips.
I would have just walked by and pretended to ignore it, but at that EXACT moment, two car loads of wealthy Chinese tourists came screaming down the road, and mistaking my disgust for delight, screeched to a halt and took pictures of the sculptures.
This alien sense of aesthetics is not limited to just parks, either. In one of my classes, I was teaching superlatives to some 12-year-olds, and I asked one girl who the 'sloppiest student in the class' was.
'Frank is the sloppiest student in the class' she replies correctly, but slowly.
Frank is one of the loudest students in the class, whose favorite question is "Do you go to the woman W.C.?". He's easily excited, but he's funny and entertaining, so I let him do his thing.
At this insult, however, he clearly takes offense, and as the female student is insulting him, he voices his objection. I agree heartily with her, to wind Frank up. 'That's right...FRANK is the sloppiest student in the class!'
At this, Frank starts to disrobe. I try to stop him, but he's flung off his jacket, and with a huge smile, poses for the class...he's wearing a patterned white and black turtleneck sweater, and overtop he's wearing a hideous beige basketball jersey, with a huge picture of Garfield in a space suit. He's grinning like an idiot and flexes his bone-thin arms, Schwarzenegger-like for the class.
I laugh so hard that we have to take a five-minute break.
Music in China is, unfortunately, deplorable. Chinese opera, which is held in high-esteem by some, is paraded around like some undiscovered art form, and the Chinese TV is saturated with it. The first time I saw Chinese opera on TV, it was just one guy on a stage.
'That's not very nice...', I thought, 'that guy's making fun of the way Chinese people sing.'
Then I realized that he was TRYING to sing like that, and I fell off my small, uncomfortable couch.
Chinese singing sounds like 'Nyeow yeooooow, ping tiiiiiiing woawoawaooooooow', and that is no exaggeration. They also play a violin which somehow manages to sound exactly like the singers. It's obscene. There are no Chinese opera singers getting together and saying 'Okay, let's hit this jam in D minor and move it up in G major.'. No. Chinese opera singers are desperately trying to sing out of tune.
The only thing worse than Chinese opera on TV, is the Chinese opera classes, where a Master instructs five students in the finer points of this 'art'. Sometimes I sing along, just to amuse myself silly, until I collapse in a fit of giggles.
There's nothing like China, though. Last night, I had a half kilogram of fresh monster prawns, fried in a light, spicy batter, for only $4. I would have cried, but I was busy tearing the legs of the suckers. And as the hot oil burned my fingers, I sat back thinking 'I'm full, but I still want more.' China is an exercise in sheer gluttony, and that, perhaps, is what prevents me from strangling the little, irritating bastards in my classes.
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