This blog is going to ramble a bit now since frankly it's on it's last legs and does not have more than 2-3 breaths of posts left in it. Let's talk a little about takeaways from China and things that I would remember for a long time:
- I spent 28 days in Shijazhuang without ever once using the name of the city. I was confident that I would never get it right, and even while in sessions with the students I often told them to ‘use the facilities in this city’, and ‘your town is so wonderful’, ‘this place has so much to offer’ etc.
|I was at 'this city's' railway station :)
- I must have been the only one in the entire team who refused to learn how to count in Chinese. The more accomplished ones could create really complex equations, while almost everyone else could manage from 1 to 10.
- I established the fact that negotiating or haggling (predominantly Indian term... not very flattering), does not require any degree of language familiarity. In other words the art of negotiation communication is global. I acquired significant respect amongst my colleagues on some of the ‘deals’ I closed.
|There were 6 (or was it 7) media player units bought from this lady.
- I'm shocked at the number of days I wore my red T-shirt and looking at my pictures now, it's really embarrassing (see image above). This is really something I need to throw away now.
- China is a land of extremes. In one of the blogs I've talked about extreme toilets that we observed in China. There were some other extremes too. The Korean BBQ restaurant in Shijazhuang had urinals that seemed - to the casual observer - to be out of order. A closer look indicated that they actually had a built in filtering mechanism.
|Pubes' filter? Really
- While in Shanghai we saw some that required a user-manual to operate. Not really something you would like to use if you were in a hurry.
|Please punch in your 18 digit user id, your 26 digit alphanumeric password, your grand mother's maiden name, your place of birth; subsequently type the letters you see. After that you may proceed to use the toilet.
- China left a deep mark on me: The last of my many 'cupping massages' two days before we left didn't go too well. Anxious to show that there were SOME impurities that could be pulled out from my pristine clean-as-my-character-body, the girl left the pots on longer than required. Band-aids were not included in the treatment.
|Forced to remember China.
- When in China be as the Chinese: I got seven people in India - including my boss - comment on how I had started to look Chinese. Hey, I'm proud to be an Indian... and while the ability to 'blend-in' and 'make relationships' etc can be useful in any country, I do remain an Indian and prefer to look like one! 100%! Also if I begin exhibiting the extremely common and inexplicable Chinese roll-up-your-shirt-and-display-your-torso behaviour, it would be fairly obvious where I come from! I love China, but every hair on my chest cringes if I'm called Chinese!
|Look mama... no hair!
|Will the real Chinese please open his eyes?!
- In China, easier to find inner peace than to find jam: The breakfast time scramble for the two teaspoons of jam was a perpetual social discussion topic. It's incredible the amount of discussion 11 'managers' from a multinational organization can have over something like jam!
|Dan for Jam: Doing an Oliver Twist
|Sue: Always intrigued by the 'green egg yellows
- English is a foreign language: A walk down any tourist location can be fairly entertaining sometimes.
- The most haunting image of Shijazhuang: When you stare at something like this 200 times a day, it becomes - like it or not - the one thing you have nightmares about. The Great Firewall of China had the final laugh on us eventually. As one rolled out of bed in the morning, the 'Ping' command was issued before the teeth were brushed. And if it were those 15 mins of the day when 'ping www.google.com' threw up something other than 'request timed out', then everything else in the world - everyone else in the world could wait.