Friday, August 28, 2009

I live in China now!

And this is my toilet!

We also have a Western-style toilet, but this one is much more fun!

So now I'm going to tell you some things about what has happened in the 18-odd hours I've been here. This will probably be of interest to no one.

- Certain people have said in the past that I look a little bit like Michael Phelps. This isn't a compliment, because presumably what they mean is not, "your body type makes you look like you'd excel at the 400 meter individual medley," but instead, "hey, you have sort of a funny face."


Since China loves Michael Phelps, I was pretty sure that I was going to get called out on this at some point while I was here. Turned out to be, like, 6 hours after I got here. We were hanging out with a Chinese friend [note: I'm going to refer to Chinese people by English names or pseudonyms, just so I don't get anyone in trouble] named Gristle.

Gristle (in Chinese): You look a lot like Michael Phelps.
Me (in Chinese): Haha, yeah, my American friends say that too sometime.
Gristle (in Chinese): Are you related?
Me (in Chinese): I don't think so.
Gristle (in Chinese): Maybe your mother and his father had an affair. (then, in loud, exuberant English) It's a joke!

Gus says that Gristle's "It's a joke!" is his trademark phrase, and even though Gus has considered telling him that it's more natural to say "just kidding," he hasn't really got around to it.

- While I was buying my cell phone last night, the clerk said that I must have a lot of friends, because I'm so attractive. Keep in mind that she was speaking in Chinese and I'm not really in Chinese mode yet, so she might have been saying this about someone else. Or maybe she was talking about the phone. Hard to say. Anyway, I slipped my SIM card into that phone, if you know what I mean. It's a joke!

- This morning I spent about 4 hours with my colleague Lisa trying to get several forms dealt with properly. During this process, I spent 500 RMB, used 9 passport photos, made 11 copies of my visa, got a blood test, and had an ultrasound. Naturally, I am not finished, and I will need to continue to fill out more forms over the next two weeks. Guangzhou: the party never stops.

- Hey, speaking of Guangzhou, it's supa ugly. We passed a nice park near the train station yesterday, but the rest of the city is cramped and pretty uncomfortable. Our apartment is fairly nice, though, and the grounds of the school are clean and fairly pleasant, by Chinese standards. There's even a track where I could run, if I wanted to get the black lung.

- Speaking of Lisa, she doesn't realize that I can't really understand Chinese. I mean, I can, but I feel like I'm playing catch-up the whole time. While we were at various government agencies this morning, there were a lot of moments when she would be speaking to the official in Chinese, and then they'd both turn to stare at me, and I'd realize that I'd totally zoned out  and they'd asked me for something or given me some crucial information. Basically what I'm saying is that I may be deported soon because I didn't fill out a form that I would have heard about if only I hadn't been daydreaming about the ringtones on my new cell phone.

- We went to a chain restaurant last night which is called 真功夫, which means "Real Kungfu!" Bruce Lee is their mascot, and their pork soup kicked me in the face.