For Payton
and Deona


Connecting Mandarin and English,
          Chinese and American,
                    people with people

Downtown Nanchang
(August 30, 2008) (return to Homepage)
     "Take the 232 and get off on the third stop after the bridge." "The 232? It's so crowded with students!" After those remarks we boarded the 232 and found seats as we seem to be near the beginning of the route. Two stops later we were full but it wasn't until two more stops later that the driver refused to open the doors at the next stops because people were standing in the doorway. It seemed as if we were only gathering riders and we started to wonder about the process for disembarking because, first of all it was strong humanity between us and the door. As it turns out, we stood up and leaned forward and the humanity formed around us.
     After a morning with Kan and Yiqi meeting his mother, viewing photo albums and sipping ice water, we shared an awesome meal fixed by the two of them, each claiming some serious culinary skills. Then we hit the streets where we saw people, probably about one quarter of the population of this city of four million. We were advised that when crossing the street we should appear to not be looking and walk slowly. I think it's "Don't look" to appear to the drivers as if they have to be responsible for our safety, and "slowly" so they can predict where you will be as they dart past you. This seemed counter intuitive to "Watch carefully and dash across when there's a space."
     The "mall" was very fancy although laid out in a design different than American. Perhaps a department store where which department was it's own little boutique with its own clerks all dressed the same, would give you some sense of layout.
Typically one clerk stood at attention as you walked by ready to quote you a price and fill your shopping bag even before you chose to buy something.
    A tour through a second fancy"mall while gathering some essentials in the grocery section," a dash through a third mall which appeared more like a flea market with no aisles for customers, the purchase of a new cell phone and service, and the establishment of a bank account were all a part of this walkabout. When it comes to walking through malls and shopping, we are a "cheap drunk" as it doesn't take much to take us past our limit. Fortunately we headed back Yiqi's apartment and excused ourselves for the bus ride back to JSTU (Jiangxi Science and Technology Normal University, our new home).
     As we walked to the bus an African appearing gentleman greeted Kan and when he saw us said, "You were described to me today." He taught at JSTU last year and is moving on to another school this year. -- The first "232" was visibly packed to the door sill but a second was close at hand with no one at the door sill yet. We assumed that position and headed home. At each stop the one standing on the door sill would have to move further into the crowd and relinquish that position to the next entrant. As we approached the university Grandma Gail inherited a seat and by the time we reached our destination nearly everyone could sit. As we closed our apartment door behind us, the lightning flashed and the rain started. We went on to count our many blessings.

A note about a Chinese apartment:
To say that an apartment in downtown Nanchang is small is both an understatement and redundant. The route to Kan and Yiqi's apartment was as intriguing as it quaintness: into and through the hospital where Yiqi, through corridors with white dressed staff, out the back, down into a small parking garage, out through a narrow alley, through the barred door and up to the fourth floor. Ironically their apartment number and ours are the same: 402. The entry included a beautiful glass topped small table and refrigerator. Beyond was a kitchen with the customary two gas burner stove (no ovens in Chinese apartments), some cupboards and a small sink.

     The next step will be to complete the medical exams with our doctors to determine our health. We've seen the forms and it seems like there is some concern about our sanity and Sars.

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