The Jet-lagged Haze
So as I mentioned in the last post the jet-lag bug pulled out disorientation stick and proceeded to beat me and Alicia over the head for the first two days of our arrival. At any given time when addressed we honestly couldn’t even begin to tell you the time, day, how long we had been in China, our given location or in one notable occasion how to open door (though in our defense the door sticks and has a handle that doesn’t turn, which can be confusing at any time let alone one were our collective mentalities amounted to the caveman equivalent of maybe we should just push harder…). This all lead to a very surreal couple of first few days, enhanced I think by the fact that the school location we have been assigned to is more of an after school tutoring center located in a mall which happens to be intertwined WITH AN AMUSEMENT PARK (ONE WITH A FERRIS WHEEL, A MOTORCYLE ROLLERCOASTER AND GIANT SURREAL FLOWERS THAT I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO DESCRIBE THAT FOR SOME REASON I HAVEN’T TAKEN A PICTURE OF! OMG WHAT?!?!?).
Anyways, the first day we ended up following Anna to work like lost ducklings, dodging angry motorists with zombie like grace and trying not to walk into people or poles while we looked around us (also, in my case, not get clothes-lined by the ties of some promotional tents we cut through along our way, apparently I am a little taller than average in China). Upon our arrival to WaWa Reading Center (our place of employment) we where introduced to a flurry of faces, given a grand tour and got to sit in on a demo lesson led by the illustrious Anna, who’s energy and zeal for living was not unlike staring to the sun for our sleep addled brains. Afterwards we were treated to some bubble tea (except for mine was actually more of a mocha slushy which is funnily enough called a MoKa in Chinese, strange huh?) and then released into the wild.
We spent the next few hours poking around the air conditioned half of the mall before wandering the unconditioned half of the mall, discovering the amusement park (where we halfheartedly attempted to figure out how to get a ride on the Ferris Wheel before we decided to be lazy sods and wait for Anna’s help) and discovering that China has apparently been hoarding every cute dress and clothing item ever created (all of which we have no hope of ever fitting into). Finally hunger drew us back to the reading center where we enticed Anna to come order our food for us at a nearby restaurant. She was join by our coworker Martin who is a teacher from Zimbabwe who is very nice but at this time was getting over a cold and couldn’t talk very much as he had lost his voice. Between the four of us we created quite an uncommon site in China (at least this area of it) with 3 white women with varying hair and coloring and a very tall black man. In fact there is pretty much staring and some pointing anytime any of us go out but this particular lunch prompted not only stares, whispers and pointing but photos as well. If I ever wondered what it was like to be a zoo animal I think I am beginning to get an approximation, though as I’m usually oblivious it really doesn’t bother me that much (as some of you know I once walked through the entire cast of Lost along with their security detail and it took a friend who didn’t even watch the show [which I did] to inform me of the occurrence).
As our meal ended Alicia and I felt we had put in our penance for the day and deserved a nap. So we headed back to the apartment to rest and after a hour drama we finally figured out how to open the door to get our much deserved rest. The rest of the evening consisted of Anna and Alicia attempting to wake me up and dragging me protesting loudly in search of a wireless router. When that proved fruitless we headed to the grocery store where I was too incoherent to make any decisions on food other than a bag of chips, a bottle of soda, some chocolate Pocky and some almonds (meal of champions, I know).
Our second day proved to be a bit better (coherency up 10%! Temperature down 15% [if I haven’t mentioned it before Nanjing is an oven, one that occasionally gets its door opened to let some heat escape and some cool air in. It may be one of the hottest places I’ve been to but then again I have a very forgiving memory give me a few months and I will probably be saying that the weather was delightful]).
Alicia and I were asked to participate in Father’s Day event held at the mall. The entire process seemed to consist of us poorly attempting to teach a large crowd of children and their parents to say “Happy Father’s Day” in English and stating that yes in fact we did work for WaWa Reading. There was an entertaining demonstration teaching little kids how to tie their fathers ties using first Alicia, then me as models. This all led to the ultimate tie-off showdown contest in which the prizes where mint and competition fierce. Of course this was all a little lost on Alicia and me as it was led entirely in Chinese (not surprising) and was hard for our muddled brains to follow.
Upon returning upstairs to the center we met Winny who is going to be our coworker and is a good friend of Anna’s. She was really excited to be visiting our location because the awesome motorcycle roller coaster I mentioned earlier was actually running. Apparently it was a long held ambition of hers to ride it and since all you have to say to get me on a roller coaster is basically… roller coaster, well then its no wonder what we did next. IT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME!!! LIKE RIDDING A MOTORCYCLE OF THE CLOUDS!!! Not gonna lie I sorta felt like an extra from TRON, don’t ask me why.
Having reach that monumental high for the day Alicia and I decide nothing could conquer it and decided to head home by way of Walmart (our growing need for a WiFi router had fast become apparent with only one broken Ethernet cable between the three of us). Armed with a note like kindergarteners facing their first day we braved Walmart in search of the router and after a (quite painless, actually) struggle, proved victorious! Emboldened by our success we quickly went in search of a sketchbook (for me, easy) and a hair straightener (for Alicia, not so easy). Both were eventually located, though there was a brief moment when we thought that we could easily pantomime hair straightener and were quickly disabused of the notion. Riding our purchasing high we went back to the apartment, set up the wifi and rediscovered the internet. Needless to say any other possible chance at productivity was lost for the rest of that day.