For Payton
and Deona


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

They Say "It's Hot!" - We Agree
(September 22, 2008) (return to Homepage)
     This may not be the hottest we've experienced, maybe not even the second hottest, but to paraphrase the oldtimer when interviewed on TV, "I can't remember ever feeling this hot!"
     Why write about hot today? Last evening we thought we'd take our initial voyage into the students' canteen for a change of venue and menu. We chose the "take-out" styrofoam and wimped to the AC apartment. The students are accustomed to this but today they sat in class wiping their foreheads as the water dripped onto their papers. Ten minutes before my 8:00AM class I turned off the AC and in those ten minutes my back was dripping wet. I put a [flat] business card in my shirt pocket, and two hours later I took it out, curled like a homemade cigarette. The Oreo cookie on the table looks like Dali's clock. Walking down the street sniffing the air remined me that hot weather significantly enhances the growth of materials and stimualte the olfactory nerves. Whheew wee! We haven't figured out why the heat is so intense; it's only 96F with 90% humidity. AC spacesuits may be the garb of the day. And to think that for about a month now, there's been frost at our former home in Alaska. Oh, yes, and it doesn't cool down at night. Thank God, the Chinese invented fireworks so they could trade with other countries for air conditioners.
     Chronologically this is Gail's first day at the new campus. The school bus, designed for faculty who ride free, and paying students, if there's room, headed across town to this new campus at about 7:15AM. Actually the latest arriving international English teacher was on the
bus also. This was good for Gail, but better for Sally who has been here two days, has no books or preparation and teaches eight hours today in a place she's never seen. She's young and isn't encumbered with thoughts of lesson plans. She's also exuberant and will do great.

A note about the Chinese student university canteen:
     They all call it the canteen. It's a large dining hall with counters of food and windows around several sides. Most students come with their own bowl, large enough for a scoop of rice and a couple toppings.      You start at the rice station. Two persons with large ladles scoop a heap of a rice into your bowl. The source of that scoop of rice is a large rectangular pot that seemed comparable to the bed of a small pickup truck. That cost us about 5 jiao (about seven cents; also equal to one-half yuan).
     Down the line were about four more stations with a server serving out of about eight different dishes. Around the corner are more stations where you can choose the food and they will cook it for you. Typically a student chooses one or more different dishes. Cost at each station varies ranging from three yuan (44 cents) for the meat dishes to one and a half or one yuan (about 14 cent) for one scoop which is enough for one person. The first night we spent about two and a half yuan, also called RMB, which stands for "renminbi" which in turn means people's currency. That two and a half yuan equates out to about 35 cents.
     The second night we took our own bowl and did a bit of splurging; we spent about 50 cents for the two of us. The food is delicious, thanks to the fats and oils, and spicy. I think we'll be eating there more often now that we know the routine and with our first forthcoming paycheck, we can afford to eat out.


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