Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quick Hits and Some Art


1. Took my first kaoshi (test) in Chinese class. I don't think I failed. But I also don't think I did particularly well. I impressed my teacher with my grasp of complicated characters (as opposed to simplified) but I'm not sure how long I can coast on that.

2. Jess and I went to IKEA. IKEA!!!! It was so magical. Just an oasis of Swedish calm. On the way there, we met an older woman who took the opportunity to showcase her massage skills. We were just innocently waiting for the bus, jangling our coins, having a friendly chat, and suddenly she is pummeling our shoulders, back, and butt. Then she rode the bus with us and tried to set Jess up with her 27-year-old ("very tall") son. Then we got off the bus and she held onto our hands (tightly) and hugged us (very tightly) and sang to us. It was awkward.

3. After IKEA, we stopped in at Metro, where you can buy Western-style food. I bought juice. JUICE! That's what I've been craving. If you buy orange juice in Dalian, it's more akin to orange soda. It's gross. The stuff I bought is no Tropicana, but it's 100% juice and I'm tired of drinking water and soda and beer all the time.

4. Kindergarten continues to be super fun and sort of nuts. It got me thinking about the One Child policy in China, which has created a nation of only children, at least in urban centers. I have heard more than one Chinese person say that it results in a lot of spoiled kids - and that when you can only have one child, it's easy to focus all your hopes and dreams and knowledge into that one kid, as well as just smothering it with affection. I'm not trying to make that case for all only-children everywhere, but it's an interesting thing to hear and process while I'm working with little kids here in China.


A while ago I saw a really incredible exhibition of contemporary Chinese photography in New York. One of the artists was Zhang Dali, who chisels out profiles of heads in the walls of soon-to-be-demolished buildings in China. According to one gallery, "Zhang Dali's intention throughout his body of work is to call attention to the changes taking place in Chinese society primarily due to the destruction of long standing communities. He wants to enter into a dialogue with his compatriots whom he sees as becoming increasingly estranged as the drive towards modernization continues."

Perhaps he got his start by working on the elevator in our apartment building...?

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