Tuesday, November 30, 2004
First of all, dear Sandra, by publish things in my blog, I seriously doubt that all the world read it. Anyone can read it if they want, but I really don't think that anyone except some very bored friends might ever read it. I'm happy if anyone at all read it. If not, I might consider quitting doin it. Or maybe not, I'm starting to like it.
This all is from my point of view and I and me, we are the masters and center of it all. I do choose to write about things that I think might be at least slightly interesting. It is not journalism and I'm not claiming to unbiased or objective at all. If anyone get offended or think I'm dead wrong, they are welcome to post that I'm an asshole or correct me.
My hope is that by reading this maybe my friends and family will get to know me a little bit better. In the process I hope not to bore you too much. And, Sandra, I really don't think you are an idiot. But I reserve the right write it if I want. Don't take what I write too serious. :)
Monday, November 29, 2004
When bringing this up with Chinese friends they don't consider this to be strange or weird about this practice of calling and inviting a lot of girls. They in fact say it was pretty common for guys to do like that.
This has made me understand a little bit better how I come into the equation. He really wanted to live with a foreigner. Now when living with me he doesn't seem to be interested in becoming my friend. We never do things together and he doesn't seem to be interested in doing anything either. He never starts to talk to me and doesn't seem interested in talking to me at all. It is basically the same with the other guys in the apartment by the way. So what was he after when I especially put in an ad to live with a foreigner? He did this after my friend Wang Jun called him and asked weather he would be interested in living with me. This showed that he was really eager.
Sure, he would want to speak English with me. I speak Chinese to him. But I really don't think that would matter. I was confused. Then when discussing this calling and inviting girl think with my friends, I realized that he is very frequently talking about me in his phone calls. He talks a hell of a lot about me. In fact I think he discuss every aspect of me that he knows about, and it wouldn't surprise me if he makes up some more when I'm not there. Why this sudden interest? Why doesn't show interest in talking and hanging out with me, when he talks so much about me?
These Saturday mornings I'm woken up at 8.30, he has some girl with him, and they start to cook. He never tells me the evening before. When cooking though and I'm hustling to get up and get dressed, they invite me. I accepted the first time, the time he invited the deaf-and-dumb girls. This Saturday he again hadn't told me, so I asked a few times more if I shouldn't go to the university and read instead. He insisted once, and then he said ok. That is as blunt as people get here. It means "Yes, I want you to go out and leave me alone with this girl".
Living with me gives him some sort of status. He uses this. He tells these girls that he lives with a foreigner, that perhaps makes him seem more interesting and they come over to hang out with him. When they do, he of course have no need for me to hang around. Maybe it is even so that he really don't want to have me there at those times, since I would take away a lot of attention from him.
What can I say. Life of a Chinese male. From what I've heard, a pretty normal one.
It is scary because there are a lot of strange things happening and I believe there is a sharp increase in violent crimes. Students around here all have stories of crime and nasty accidents. Koreans talk about the students that got hit by a car and left bleeding to death, or the another student that was found dead in his apartment after a month after apparently having encountered a burglar in his flat. Kids are cutting you bag in the bus to take your wallet, old women with infants are selling porn on the street, bags and bicycles are stolen even on the guarded university campus. I hear people blame minority groups such as the Xinjiang people or migrant workers. Nasty.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Sandra had a little get together last night with a lot of Colombian friends to drink hot chocolate milk with cheese. You grind chocolate in hot milk, add chunks of cheese, drink it, and eat the half melted cheese with a spoon. The world is just full of surprises.
Friday, November 26, 2004
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Even if I don't study at the university I could still join, since they were short of guys. This year it is a little bit tougher. We have to do a pretty complicated set of Chinese Gongfu moves. They have increased the demands and you actually have to stay a little bit focused to follow. Yesterday Da Wang Laoshi ("big teacher Wang") even threatened that we could be replaced if we were not "up to the standard"! Since they had a shortage of guys they have added a bunch of Chinese guys that are to be taken for Koreans or Japanese. They of course take the whole think absolutely serious and are dead boring. The guy next to me keeps pointing out mistakes I'm doing in an absolutely rude and irritating way. Not that I let that bother me. If I would, I would already have gone crazy in this country.
Monday, November 22, 2004
After lunch I went to shop for interview gear. Bought a pair of shoes, pair of pants, a belt and a shirt. Luckily I found a floor full of this formal clothing that had a sale. When buying something they gave you a card with the equivalent value of the prize you paid to buy next item. Pretty much 50% off. If you didn't want to use this scheme you could choose other discount methods, the discounts didn't apply to all products and shops, etc... Pretty complicated, but I figured it out. My shopping Chinese has improved. Hurray!
During the interview they did exactly as Irram had described. We chatted a little about the company, they asked me "do you know anything about international trade?", they asked me to do some corrections of their product pamphlet, and then Irram left and the supervisor asked what kind of salary I wanted. Irram said they did the same think when she got hired. Nobody ever tried to look at the corrections she made. I guess this time maybe she would be able to look at my corrections. Weird.
Concerning the salary I said 9-10 thousand, and she looked very shocked and asked "Is that for a year?". He he. No. So I will have to do some pretty touch negotiations here to get what someone driving the bus back home will get. She said it was impossible, but admitted that they had asked around and come to the conclusions that foreigners are usually paid 7000 upwards. I talked about previous salaries, about friends salaries, and additional costs of being a foreigner in China and bla bla bla. In the end it seemed like she was very interested in hiring me and that she would try to convince her boss that I was a good choice. She would of course not make the decision, and the boss who would just quickly by chance passed by and shook my hand, he will. Maybe I can get 7000 in the end. They probably had 4000 in mind.
I will be the first foreigner that I know that work for a completely Chinese firm if I take this job. My hope is that it will be better for my Chinese than it is for my economy.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Friday, November 19, 2004
Thursday, November 18, 2004
To the quite a few Chinese people CCTV means 'China Central
Television'. To the also not so few Beida guards 'Closed-Circuit
Television' might come to mind. In building 4 at the international
students dorm at Peking University there is a guard watching a hell of
a lot of CCTV feeds with the most modern CCTV system I have ever seen.
I thought the place was secret and I never dared to stay and look at
it. Until two days ago when I passed by with a friend who knew the
guard currently on duty. We went in to the control room and asked the
guard if he could demonstrate the system. To my surprised he started
to show us the system as if we had given him an order. Soon we were
playing around with the controls ourselves and tried to find ourself
in the massive backup of footage of numerous places on campus. The
whole thing is completely computerized and recorded on hard drives. In
a few clicks you can go back weeks and zoom in on people or sweep over
360 degrees panoramas.
The guard is just a dummy sitting there waiting for time to pass by,
watching so the system won't burn up, and possible occasionally zoom
in on some pretty girl. Nobody watches the stuff in real time. If
something do happen they do have quite a lot of possibilities.
Guess this adds to the rumour that guards at the campus are involved
in the big business of stealing and selling bikes... If not, they
could have solved that problem in a second.
Me producing some amazing kitchen art while the teacher is completely
stunned by the mastery of my work.
By now I have cooked 鱼香肉丝 (pork), 麻婆豆腐 (toufu), 带于(eel), 把丝苹果 (suger coated apples), 墨鱼(squid), chicken, and now last weekend 茄子(aubergine). Gosh... I really can't remember the name of the dishes. I'll fill them in when I remember.
More dishes are coming up. I gave Sandra, my Colombian friend, the cooking classes as a birthday gift, so there will be more fried animals.
On my way to and from school I usually pass by this horse cart where a
guy is selling fruit. Horse carts are forbidden in the city, so if you
see a horse in this picture, you are mistaken and should immediately reeducate
yourself and study Marxist theories. The place is right outside QingHua University's new International Research Hi-tech Future Cyber IT Plaza. Maybe the "horse" is some sort of advanced robotic thing?
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Monday, November 15, 2004
Sunday I went to cooking class. Cooked SuChaoQiezi, aubergine cooked in oil. After class I went with Carly, an American girl studying at the Chinese department at Beida (not the Chinese language center where I studied) and ate our dishes at one of the canteens at Beida. In the afternoon I accompanied her and her Korean friend to check out the White Cloud Temple (BaiYunDian), a Taoist temple that I hadn't been to. After dinner and returning back, we joined the English club to make dumplings. A spectacle organized by WangJun and the mafia.
I like my life here.
Here is a picture of the students talking to the lady that followed us
after the visit to the DongZhuang village. I didn't want to disturb
them when they was talking so I observed them from a distance.
Unfortunately I don't have any good pictures from the visit. I was
told to keep my camera in the bag since there was a risk it would be
None of us going had been to this place before and we really didn't know what to expect. The other students pointed out that we probably would catch the attention of some government monitor when entering the area, and we could possible get into trouble. When asking WangJun what getting into trouble meant, she said it could be anything from being hustled out from the area to being arrested and beaten up.
We followed the descriptions given by the article, but it was still a little bit difficult to find. It is situated south-west of Beijing southern railway station. Some people we asked wouldn't tell us where to go. When approaching the area the students got pretty nervous, especially since we were standing out against the rest of the people on the streets and caused a lot of attention. People started to come up to us and ask us if we were students or journalists and wanted to talk to us. We walked up and down some of the narrow alleys and peeked into the shacks. One woman that approached us wanted us to come with her into the place she lived. We decided to give it a go, even if we were all pretty uncomfortable with the commotion that was starting. When entering another woman chasing us, shouting at us to get out. The two women started to argue about this, and we decided to leave. The other woman coming was the landlord and she probably wouldn't want to get in trouble. Since even more people were coming we decided to leave. From what I understood, more people wanted to talk to us, some people warned us and said we were in danger, others thought it was unsuitable to show a foreigner such ugly parts of China, and others argued that this should be solved by Chinese themselves without no foreigners being involved. WangJun thought that if we stayed around we would definitely catch the attention of local authorities, therefore we left the place not more than half an hour after we got there.
When leaving one of the old woman followed us, and we got to talk undisturbed with her for a little while. From what the others told me, the woman said that there was around 500 people currently living at this place. All with their own story of abuse and putting their final home in coming to Beijing to appeal. This woman had herself come to Beijing five years ago since all of her family's land had been confiscated. She had realized that coming to this place was hopeless and futile, but she didn't have anyplace to go. There was nothing to return to either.
When the others was talking to this lady, another old woman passed by and stopped by me. Holding her hand was a little child, she said it was not much more than one year old. The old woman said her son had been killed and she was left to take care of his child. She also had nowhere to go and was therefore living at this place. Unfortunately I didn't understand anything else she was saying.
None of these people asked for any money, they just wanted to listen to their stories. The lady told the students that her life was hopeless. They were students and had a chance for a good life and therefore they should do their best to try to achieve it. It was a short visit but it left a big impression.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Since 1998 traffic on Beijing's roads has doubled to 2m vehicles and it is expected there will be 3m by 2008. The new cars are burning some of the world's dirtiest fuel. Because of the increase in oil prices China is buying cheap "sour crude" on world markets. The oil is $1 cheaper a barrel, but contains far more sulphur - the main source of air pollution. According to the state environmental protection agency petrol accounts for 79% of the country's smog.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Me and Martin during the hutong tour.
Martin and Sara, a Swedish girl at Beida, are two students from KTH in
Stockholm. They are also studying engineering in the same kind of
program as me (they: M.Sc Electrical Engineering, me: Physics
Engineering, "civilingenjör"). They study Chinese for one semester and
then start to study with the Chinese. This is impossible and Sara told
me today that she will not be able to take the exams. Instead she will
continue to study Chinese in the school I go to. Sounds more sane.
Will probably improve her life quality here a lot.
Last Friday one of my classes finished and because of that we have
taken the teacher out for dinner. Twice. We all really like her and
that class. The last couple of weeks there was normally just 3 or 4
students joining and most of the time in class has been spend chatting
about this and that. A pretty good way to learn a language I think.
Friday was hotpot and Monday was Yunnan style food. Afterwards we went
on to a bar and had drinking games that the Korean dude knew. Seems
like he had done a lot of that when doing his 2 year plus military
Well, a quick attempt to reach news.bbc.co.uk shows that the wall has not fallen. "The operation timed out when trying to reach news.bbc.co.uk". Maybe it is just a little crack for blogspot.com.
With a pen, some paper, and my poor written Chinese I figured out that they were from a dance academy here in Beijing. They often go abroad to do performances. They asked me the usual "Do you like China", "Do you like Chinese food?", and so on, and then the little less usual "Do you prefer bread or rice?". I answered that rather odd question with "rice", and to that they commented that they often saw people eat bread in foreign countries and that they were really fat, making gestures showing how really fat they these foreign people were.
The hotpot was quite a disaster. NieTingFeng had bought enough food for an army and poured it all in a huge put that were boiling. The chunks of vegetables and meat were huge and really not suitable for 3 petite girls. Well it wasn't very suitable for anyone I guess. My room mate, being Sichuanese, didn't really ask if we all liked spicy food. And it was really spicy. Spicier than the volcanic hotpot we had back home in Sweden last summer. NieTingFeng's (girl-?)friend looked increasingly unhappy and went back early, claiming that she had homework to do. He tried to rescue the situation as much as he could and kept pleading to her "don't give me such a sad face". After the hotpot the dancers also decided to go home. My poor room mate.
Me, being absolutely full, had another dinner appointment 1,5 hours later.
Maybe they will invite me to their next performance. Let's hope so.
The not entirely successful hotpot with the three dancing ladies.
Monday, November 01, 2004
Crossing the road from Beida eastern gate to ZhengFuLu on my way to my
morning class in Wudaokou. Most potentially lethal vehicles goes first. Sometimes there is
a traffic police waving his arm and orchestrating the whole thing. One
morning he didn't bother and chatted with a woman he seemed to know,
both still standing in the middle of the crossing. It didn't make any
difference for the traffic situation anyway.
My situation in the morning is pretty similar to the computer game "Frogger". In that game a frog is trying to cross a street with busy traffic. The game always ends with the frog being crushed by a truck or a car. Here in the morning, the frog, or me, has a greater variety of ways of being squashed and the vehicles can come from any possible angle. My fellow bikers are both a threat and a help. Crossing a street is safest when staying together using the same tactics as schools of fish do to avoid big predators, but any individual biker can at any moment cut in front of you when you are trying to get away from an incoming bus and cause your doom. It is always to go with the flow since any trucker would probably consider avoiding the angry mob that would gather if he would run over a couple of us bikers. This is of course if the truck has breaks and if the driver is awake and is sober.
I've been asking around among the foreigners here if they have any insurance. Very few seem to have it and if they do it doesn't seem to cover transport home. My insurances runs out in a couple of days and because of money constraints I think I will go for a Chinese one. It will cover hospital bills here, but won't cover for an emergency flight home.