Saturday, January 28, 2006

28 January 2006 The Daily Dosage

I've done New Year's Eves in other countries before, but nothing quite this loud! Shanghai, China, on the eve of the Lunar New Year, 2006, the 'Year of the Dog!' Wow and a 'bow!'

The only other time I can remember this many 'explosions' was Viet Nam, 1964! I don't think I've ever seen/heard this kind of fireworks display right outside my window (here on the 23 rd floor at 277 Dong Tai Road).

I just returned from having a lovely New Year's Eve dinner at Mrs. Zhao's grandmother's apartment—traditional dumplings.

I had first thought grandmother's apartment might be in an old-style 2, 3-story building, kinda small, kinda dingy. Wrong again! This was on the 13th (my lucky number) floor in a high-rise building, whose square meters sell for some incredible amount of money (whether that be Yuan or dollars). Rich wooden floors, dark wood furniture, a modern kitchen! In fact, this apartment might be in Amsterdam, or New York City! And complete with washing machine and maid's quarters.

Young son, Stephanie's uncle, one of three boys and one girl (the daughter living in Chicago) has done well in 'Futures!' He bought the apartment for grandmother.

It's interesting you me, history, economic systems, how China has changed since I first saw it forty years ago. I was trying to explain to Stephanie, born in 1979, the same year Deng Xiaopeng awakened the 'sleeping Dragon!' He was quoted as saying, 'I can distribute poverty, or I can distribute wealth!' He distributed abundance! If only he hadn't unleashed the Chinese Army in Tianmmon Square in 1989, I would revere this guy! Certainly he is the 'Father of Modern China!' But, such is history, governments, the ideology and means they use to get control of the masses!

Governments of any kind of persuasion are just a smaller group controlling a larger group for fun and profit! Call it democracy, monarchy, Communistic, Socialistic, whatever, they're all the same!

One hundred years ago China was in disarray… What a Century for them, the 20th: the last 'Dynasty,' feudalism, wars, Communism (scarcity), and now a free market economy that's soaring… All in one hundred years! No wonder everyone's smiling here in Shanghai (at least)! At least, most are smiling! With the free market comes extremes, the very rich and the very poor! What to do?

If I were 'King,' or 'president,' or 'dictator,' or… I'd encourage the entrepreneurs at the same time taking care of the less fortunate! Seems to me that's the responsibility of the enlightened! Who said anything about governments being enlightened!

After dinner we watched the New Year's Eve show on CCTV1, a tradition, their version of the 'Times Square Show,' in the U.S. But, what a production! I was impressed with the opening number! I can't wait for the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing 08! Wow! I can only imagine!

China's exploding literally and figuratively!

I'm glad I'm here and partaking! While America slides down the slippery slope into oblivion, China's five stars are rising!

The only 'blimp on the Chinese radar screen,' to me at least, is over population!

Today in the food market is an example of 'too many rats in a cage' syndrome! I thought I was going to have to 'speak up' on my behalf. I'm a nice mild-mannered guy until riled, then watch out! I've been known to do some strange things! I think today I spoke English out loud (this gets their attention, noting the inflection of my voice they stepped away. How you say 'it,' is sometimes more important than 'what!'). I also did my little 'dance/chant' when they started bumping into me (in line)! Acting 'weird,' usually is all you need to do to have people start moving away from you!

Yesterday, Bhuwan and I ended up all over Shanghai trying to buy me a RR ticket from Uremqi to Kashi. Well, guess what you can't. But, on the way back I walked right into the jacket I've been looking for all the time I've been here (five weeks). Amazing! I actually got two jackets (one is a fleece liner) for 140 Yuan. That's $15 U.S. In the U.S. this would cost $250 U.S. What's more I like it (large enough)! This called, 'Guaizhinu' made in Korea (I think). We'll see, only with use can you really tell about garments. If it turns out well, I'll 'sing' their praises! Right now I'm cursing another outdoor gear company, this one in the U.S.!

Ever heard of Marmot, of California, U.S.A.? I bought their rain shell at REI in Colorado more than two years ago! This garment, made in Thailand. I mean what do they know in Thailand about making 'performance' clothing? I've cursed Marmot many times over the past two years! Besides the zippers, that always lock on the rain strip, and the poorly designed hood, now the interior 'rubberized,' layer is deteriorating! So, I'm sending it back, all the way to Santa Rosa, California.

Who knows, maybe they'll give me a new one! For these light-weight 'shells' are good to cycle in. This one did repel both the wind and the rain! But, the hood, how mis-designed! The zipper… Every time I try to zip it up it gets caught in the lining!

Garment companies… Ah, if only they would pre-test what they manufacture, they'd please more customers. Instead, all they think about is making whatever attractive enough to sell (the ole 'bottom line, of course). Too bad if it doesn't live up to its billing! The price of this Marmot, piece-of-shit shell,' at REI in CS 2.5 years ago, $130U.S.

Yesterday, on my way out of Mr. Zhao's office (#2306) with Bhuwan, we boarded the elevator with some anglo-looking people (unusual in this building). Immediately they started speaking in what I thought was 'Russian.' I told Bhuwan, which they overheard. 'No, no!' they replied in English! I said 'hello' in Russian, but they're not from Russian, nor can speak it. Turns out they're Bulgarian! But, even more amazing to me they're operating a modeling agency right next door in 2308!! Of course, I'm going to go have a chat! I managed to remember the Capitol of Bulgaria… Do you know…? It means 'wisdom,' in Greek!

Think about it… Bulgarians, speaking English, operating a modeling agency in Shanghai, China! How 'wise' is this…?

I'm on my way to Xinjiang on Monday… This after five weeks in Shanghai, China, and two years into our 'Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailas!'

It was two years ago this very week that Rose (Phyllis Rock) blessed me with, 'The light is with you, the light is within you!' I was on my way to Minneapolis on the bus, and then a flight to Norway, via Iceland—ultimately to live in Sweden (first phase of the Pilgrimage)! This at the end of January, 2004! No wonder the flight to Norway was inexpensive! How many people are stupid enough to visit Iceland and Norway in the middle of winter? I did!

But, the bus ride… Arduous! And my God, it was colder in Minneapolis, that Iceland or Norway, I think something like –19F the morning we pulled into frozen Minneapolis. I remember my Nepali friend, Rajan Devkota, picked me up and drove me to his house for a Dhal bhat!

I remember the flight to Iceland as restful, as I got to stretch out in three seats and sleep!

But, Reykjavik, where I'd been in 1972, for ABC (Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky chess match), was too early and too cold. The new airport some fifty kilometers west of R., a long ride, but after the nice Iceman allowed me to leave my luggage in the baggage room (until tomorrow's flight). Then a hotel in the dark, where I had a pot of tea for $8 U.S.

Warmed and somewhat awake I walked through Reykjavik to the Hostel where I was to spend the night. Note, the deal on the cheap ticket required me to spend a night in R. I maybe ten kilometers, it so cold I had to stop in stores and warm up every several hundred meters!

I finally got to the Hostel, but too early (something like 0800). It was full of teenagers departing on a bus. They made me wait to check in… Exhausted from travelling for 36 hours I fell asleep in a chair.

Being so far north, 61 degrees north latitude, the sun doesn't peek over the horizon (in the south) until 1000, and then disappears by 1400 ( 2P.M.). In that four hours the sun, so weak at that angle, gives such a strange tinge to the land. I'll never forget it, the light, wondering how anyone could possible survive the winter there. It's not the cold so much, as the lack of sun light.

I wandered around taking photographs with my disposable camera (check out at www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery). I couldn't afford dinner in a restaurant, opting for hot tea. I bought some snacks in a market.

Later, I went to bed in a 'common' room with three 'bunk' beds. Yet, it cost almost $40U.S. I was desperately short of money, having to try both plastic cards, before one worked! In the middle of the night a man walked in, turned the light on awakening me, but then he slipped into bed quietly, another guest. But, the room was cozy and the water hot!

I began this 'Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailas,' on a wing and a prayer, and Rose's blessing! When you have 'the light,' you don't need much else! I shall always be grateful for that blessing!

And now here I am in Shanghai, China, observing the most incredible pyrotechnic display I've ever seen, and right outside my window! Loud!

Asia is loud! They invented gunpowder; thus fireworks! And tonight, on the Eve of the 'Year of the Dog,' they're 'barking' very loudly!

Bring on the Dog, the new moon! In two days, I'm outta here! Back to 'God's Country!' No, not Colorado, but Xinjiang Province!

Happy New Year!

25 January 2006 The Daily Dosage

Some interesting things today, yesterday, all my days…

First of all, the contact lens… It's good! I'm happy with my purchase! I can see again!

Secondly, I witnessed something today that will illustrate the insanity on the streets, I couldn't believe it!

On the way back from Zentral ('Healthy Eatery'), where I eat brunch, I was waiting for a traffic light at an intersection on Fuqing Road. I'm one of the few that actually wait for a green light. It was red in my direction, so I stood there. Just to my left a young man on a bicycle was standing and waiting too. Since the light was green for him, I thought he's resting, or waiting for someone. No, he was waiting for the light to turn to red to go! Which he did against traffic. I was dumbfounded! And there can be but two explanations. One, he's color blind, or two he's stupid? Nonetheless, an example of the insanity on the streets of Shang Hai.

Then on to purchase envelopes. When I didn't see any, I pulled out my dictionary. Ah, I've learned how to communicate in China! I got some envelopes!

In the afternoon, I took off in quest of a book entitled, 'Soul Mountain, ' by Gao Xinjiang. He won a Nobel Prize for Literature. But, I cannot find his book! I think it must be banned by the Chinese Government.

Anyway, a Chinese man at the 'Shanghai Foreign Language Bookstore,' gave me a clue the other day… He said something about a 'City Bookstore,' on the 5 th floor of a shopping mall on west Nanjing Road. Not much to go on, but I had nothing better to do, now waiting to depart Shang Hai.

So, I walked northwest, having check my map of Shanghai. A nice cool and sunny day.

Finally, I was on 'Nanjing Road W., as opposed to 'Central, ' 'East.' Here having never been before I discovered 'upper Fifth Avenue.' That's what it reminded me of… Such rich shopping. I didn't think this was the type of neighborhood where this bookstore would be located, but amazingly, I think I found it on the 5th floor of a shopping mall, just like the Chinese man had said.

But, no '"Soul Mountain,' so now I know, banned!

I will, however, order from www.amazon.com and have shipped to me. Anyone want to help!

What happened to all of you that responded to my call for English books…? Ah, talk is cheap, action not so…?

From exploding Shanghai, Kunlun , my second Chinese name!

22 January 2005

Sunday, the day after…

I returned to the contact lens place with Ceres (my young Chinese friend), and decided… I bought one, a B&L lens made in Beijing, for 195 Yuan, about $25U.S. But, at least it says on the container, ‘1 year.’ We will see… Better…

I’m so happy I still can see, have my eyesight, many are blind! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Grateful! Grateful! Grateful!

You can only try to do the best thing, make the best deal… They have to get something out of it too, the store, the seller, the other half of ‘the deal!’ For, and you learn this, a good deal is when both parties are happy!

That was after I’d met her at the New World Emporium, and we bought train tickets. She’d called earlier and we were to meet at 0930.

I suggested we go and purchase her train ticket first, considering how challenging it is to travel around ‘Spring Festival’ time. She lives in Hubei Province (near my friend Lei Jian). But, where to go, as the Shanghai RR Station, a mass of people.

We walked next door to the Radisson Hotel, as hotels are always a good source of information. Note… They think, if you look proper, you’re a guest in the hotel—I use their toilets everywhere I go.

From the ‘concierge,’ we got an address finally, after I had to explain… They assumed we’d go to their travel agent. No, I wanted an official Chinese RR Agency office.

The address turned out to be on E. Beijing street, and a walk from People’s Square. But, I love walking as it’s the only way you really see and feel a place—exercise!

Finally, at this sub-station, everything turned out great (as opposed to the one in Kashsigar). It had many open windows, and there weren’t that many customers (the rush having subsided). Not only did she buy her ticket, but I was able to purchase mine to Uremqi for 629 RMB (Yuan) / $80U.S. I was thrilled!

Then on to shopping for a jacket. Ironically, Ceres took me to a clothing mart, I’d already been in… This is what I mean by getting out and about. You learn. I probably know more about Shang Hai than she does. But, she’s new and has a job.
I’m foot loose and fancy free!

From there a taxi ride to Zentral, where I bought her lunch.

Then we walked too Heng Shan Road, via my contact lens store (what to call?). Here I found out more (using her to translate), and I decided on a ‘1-year Bausch & Lomb’ made in Beijing. This for 195RMB / $25U.S. Note: Some things are more expensive in China (but few).

But, you have to be concerned when buying anything in China. And I will issue this caveat: Be very careful, for two reasons. One, Asia is famous for copying. They steal names and make their own, for much less of course, but then you don’t get the same quality (hopefully)! Secondly, you can’t return an item if unsatisfied. There’s little consumer protection in China. So, make sure it’s what you want for the price! If you don’t like it there’s no returning for exchange or refund!

On the other hand, goods are plentiful, and inexpensive compared to the West. Additionally, you can negotiate the price in most places (although not where there’s a price tag).

From there a long walk to a park full of metal sculptures (see images in the ‘Gallery’ at www. cyclingpeace.org ) The weather was pleasant (the sun out after many days of overcast), however.

And a lovely Park, this on Heng Shan Road near the movie theater where I had seen ‘Travelling Thousands of Miles!’ at the time not even knowing the title.

After ‘park-taking,’ along with the usual hordes in China, we walked to the movie theater. I wanted Ceres to explain the movie I’d seen the previous week. This, turned out not to be a ‘classic,’ but just released (I’d gone to a ‘preview’). This having a famous Chinese actor (which Stephanie had explained). And here I finally learned the title, ‘Travelling Thousands of Miles,’ based on a famous ‘opera?’ Now, I’m interested to learn if I figured out the story/plot, just from the pictures? I told Ceres to go, and then explain.

This is an interesting phenomena, going to a movie without know anything really, and then unable to understand the dialogue. This experience, however, has given me some ideas. For one thing, I realized that movies, by in large, rely too much on dialogue to drive the plot. The medium is called, ‘motion pictures,’ not ‘motion words!’ The pictures should be able to drive the plot, this with fewer words!

From there it was time to rest, so we stopped at Kevin’s Café, across from the Heng Shan Hotel. We sat in the sun, beaming through a window, and had a lovely time!

Ceres is an impressive young Chinese woman! She will do well!

After acquiring several ‘tourist maps’ from their lit. rack, we moved on, now late in the afternoon. But, what a good time!

I walked Ceres to the subway, where we departed.

I then continued on and walked all the way back to 277 Dong Tai Road, some two more miles. I probably walked six miles / 10 kilometers that day! Ah, the more the better, as I’m getting fat (I can feel my waist buldging)!

I can’t wait to return to Kashsigar and get on Ms. Fiets! First, however, I have to figure out the wheel situation at Giant!

Ah, there’s always something, some challenge, some task, some problem to overcome!

But, ‘Possible, beneficial, and happy thoughts,’ always makes it easier! Generally speaking, we’re our own worst enemy!

21 January 2006 The Daily Dosage

I’m getting fat, I can feel it, the bulk at my waist—I don’t like the feeling!

I grow weary of the big city, missing the earth, the birds, nature in general! Here, besides the pigeons and some trees, parks, it’s all concrete! It’s all a buzzing bee hive!

However, yesterday I ended up walking maybe ten kilometers / six miles. But, nothing like riding a bicycle for exercise—it gets the heart rate up!

I was given 2 tickets to a Chinese movie, Stephanie’s mother had been given (by someone at the International Church). But, both she and Stephanie couldn’t attend, so I was invited to. I called Kevin and Ceres, to see if they wanted to, but both were going out of town. It would have been easier to find the theater, had they accompanied me, but I persevered. With Stephanie’s Pinyin name of the theatre Heng Shan (‘juchang’ for ‘theater’), I drew the Chinese characters on a piece of paper! I stopped to ask and luckily a Chinese man, who could speak some English could read my Chinese-drawn characters (I was so proud of myself!). He then asked the same two questions they always ask, ‘Where are you from?’ And ‘How old are you?’


It turned out that Heng Shan theater (∫· …Ω æÁ ≥°) is on Heng Shan – ∫· …Ω) street (lu – ¬∑). This makes sense, right? But, I didn’t know this. I just happened to see a street sign (thank God for those in English)! Of course, I knew I was on the right track because the Chinese man had said, something like, ‘three more streets and then left.’ You have to get lucky sometimes to get there on time.

Note: To get Chinese characters (on the computer), first you activate an icon to get MS’ IME (‘Simplified Chinese’ program), and then you type in the Pinyin (intermediate Roman-alphabet letters). Up pop the characters when you hit ‘return’… God, or the Chinese know if they are correct as there are options. You have to know which is the correct character, as Chinese has many ‘homophones!’

There are ‘homophonal’ characters…? Or, maybe the Pinyin is homophonal? Thus, it’s a matter of knowing what ‘Thank you,’ is in Chinese, as the Pinyin ‘xie, xie,’ is only an approximation!

‘Thank you!’ I’ve been trying to learn how to write this in Chinese. The Pinyin is ‘Xie, xie!’ When you type in these letters you get –ª–ª Gosh, this is so strange… these are the correct ones for a change! I thought I’d… Well, too complicated to explain—computers can mystify! I’m beginning to learn that ‘Pinyin,’ is more for speaking than writing…?

I’m going to try again, inputing the following Pinyin words for ‘Thank you’… ‘Xie, xie,’ see what I get… –ª–ª (AMAZING! The program corrected before my very eyes, as the first characters were wrong. The ones here are correct!

I’m learning, that learning Chinese is difficult for the same reason learning English is… It’s up for interpretation. I’ll bet the homophones, ‘there’ and ‘their,’ confuse Chinese students learning English too!

Chinese characters are basically pictographs that make up ‘thoughts’ (words). There are, and they are not ‘words!’ Supposedly each character has ‘sound’ and ‘meaning!’

Some times, one character adds up to an English ‘word,’ but sometimes it takes more characters. This is what makes it challenging. Additionally, characters (pictographs) are not syllables. The Chinese language has only 400 ‘syllables,’ but 50K characters. Beyond that explanation, and even more confusing, is the use of systems (interpretations) of these characters into our alphabet (understanding). I think it’s true, that to truly understand a ‘language,’ you have to have been born in that culture. Language is culture!

Will I ever know Chinese? Not in this life time. I will be happy to learn about it. My goal is to write a poem in Chinese!

On the way to the theater, the other day, I stopped again the second time, showing two Chinese people what I’d drawn, and again they could read. Yep, straight down the street ‘thataway!’ So, it is possible to navigate in China, and find out what you need to know… That is, if you persevere!

I walked on way past the Church, and finally a theatre. She too, when reading my note, directed me inside! Ah, success, arriving at 1315 (1:15P.M.) hours, for a 1320 movie (as on the ticket)… Stephanie had said 12 noon and 1330. But, it had already started…

I’m directed to my numbered seat, however, by an usher with a flashlight… Harken back to the days in the U.S. when this was so! Unfortunately, I sat in front of a mother with bored children, and thus a trying time.

Think about it… Going to a movie where you don’t understand the dialogue, trying to figure out the plot, the story, what’s going on. I think I did pretty well too, which confirms what I’ve been thinking for a long time (being a screenwriter myself). There’s too many movies where dialogue drives the plot! You ought to be able to follow the plot of a movie visually!

And now that’s become a goal, to write a screenplay where images, not words drive the story!

I don’t even know the name of the Chinese movie at the Heng Shan Theater (yesterday), but it was my kind of movie (Stephanie tells me this has become renown)… No FX, no violence, no overt sex, no wars, no weirdness! Just a story about people in a particular situation (this could have been a true story?). And my guess about the story without really knowing…

The protagonist, seems to be seeking (solving) something. I think maybe he was making a documentary about an ancient dance (had a video camcorder with tripod), that only a convict (in prison) knew. But, the convict wouldn’t do the dance, until the protagonist found his son. This he did, and loving the little boy in the process. It’s possible the convict was the protagonist’s father-in-law as he got emotional mobile calls from his wife. In the end the convict performs the dance, fulfilling the wishes of many. The last shot is of the protagonist staring out at the sea!

Now, I don’t know if I’m correct in my assumptions, as there was much dialogue! Talking, talking, always talking! Too much in movies… Thus, my own idea—less dialogue!

I walked back to a Giant Bicycle Shop I’d passed. I’m looking for cycling apparel, but guess what? They don’t sell such in bicycle shops in China. Interesting… I did see their ‘top end’ competition ‘mountain’ bike for sale, at 26,000 Yuan, or about $3K U.S. dollars.

All I want is Ms. Fiet’s wheel back together again right—long story of my incompetence!

I walked on and back to Dong Tai Lu, passing (and purchasing) some clothing items for practically nil. I bought long-sleeve shirts (underwear) for 10 Yuan / !.25 cents.

I was going to deal with the purchase of contact lens, as I’d put down a deposit, but decided against. I need a Chinese speaker along! They’re trying to sell me ‘Bausch and Lomb, ‘one-year’ contact lens, but it doesn’t say anywhere on the bottle/box. I’m leery, as so much ‘rip off’ in China. And no consumer protection. I probably made a mistake putting down 50 Yuan, but these were half the price of other similar lens I’d priced (500 Yuan / $60 U.S.). But, there’s probably a reason! You get what you pay for! I’m not the best shopper, actually!

I hate shopping, actually!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

15 January 2006 The Daily Dosage

I just saw the latest version of, ‘King Kong,’ this time with the American actors speaking Chinese—this in a movie theater in Shanghai! Talk about a movie-‘koing’ experience… This in a smalle ‘room’ with a huge screen! But, it was full of Chinese moviegoers, me and Ceres. I had read where it was in English, with Chinese sub-titles, but it turned out to be dubbed into Chinese. And what a good job of dubbing. I was impressed! Nonetheless, it’s a bit strange to see anglo people speaking such Chinese!

This is the third version of the ‘King Kong’ movie I’ve seen (in my life time)! The original (I think it produced in the late 1930s), the second one made about twenty years ago starting Jessica Lange’s career, and this the latest version. Seems to me every time it gets worse!

Interesting about the second version (along about 1985?), the promotion of… I just happened to be sitting in the bar on the 66th Floor of the RCA building in N.Y.C. (this bar has a name that escapes me at the moment). I think I was having a drink with my old friend Joyce Hellew? There in front of us, looking south to the Empire State Building they had managed to tie a huge ‘King Kong’ balloon to the facade. Of course, everyone photographed this and the movie, as ‘ape’ movies always do, cashed in! Remember ‘Mighty Joe Young?’

Think of the challenge and expensive of tying a huge balloon to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. On the other hand, N.Y.C. has much experience with these large ‘ani-po-morphic’ balloons used in the ‘Macy’s Day’ Parade! I’m sure that year King Kong flew along over Broadway too. Gotta maximum the use, get your money’s worth out of these expensive balloons—extend the ‘reach!’

Ironically, I’d been in L.A. a few years earlier, visiting my Hollywood ‘Gafer’ friend Lee Heckler on the MGM Studios in Culver City. There on a back lot they had built this huge wall (for the second version), the ‘wall’ leading into the ‘Heart of Darkness,’ the ancient ‘city’ behind where Kong lived. This life-size wall, right there in Culver City, not far from where I used to play golf (attended El Segundo H.S.). Now, there build models instead of life-size walls.

In this most recent version of ‘King Kong’ there’s a reference to Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness.’ This is the second movie in my life time that’s made reference to Conrad’s novel. The first ‘Apocalypse Now,’ thirty years ago. I’m happy seeing Joe get a little exposure. I’ll bet you don’t know where he was born?

This latest version of ‘King Kong’ was directed by New Zealander, Peter Jackson… But, way too long (three hours) and too over blown (up)! Gosh, like a Spielberg ‘The Adventures of…” this had everything including nasty dinosaurs, giant spiders, bats, and centipedes, and all after the girl and the men trying to protect her. Of course, when the ape turns out be a ‘good guy,’ (saves her life numerous times) she falls for him!

The basic story behind all this is, ‘Beauty and the Beast!’ This, a wonderful myth about compassion (King Kong) and wisdom (the female) being drawn to one another, only to be thwarted by the usual bad guys (unconsciousness). Kong’s ultimate demise is at the hands of modern technology! I’m not sure the ‘Hollywood’ writers even understood the mythology behind the FX.

But, what FX! They created New York City in the 1930s! God only know what that cost!

Walking to meet Ceres (to go to the movie), I saw something I’d never seen before, live and in color! Gosh, I wish I’d been able to capture this on film. There on Tibet Road, in the heart of Shanghai, with thousands walking/driving/cycling/pushing past, a Chinese man was sitting on the floor of a telephone booth (for all to see) . I don’t suppose there’s anything too unusual about that, although this man had taken off his trousers and was stitching them together, his life’s possessions in plastic bags next to him. It was a wonderful bit of ‘Chinacana.’ Thousands of people on the street passing by, a happy Saturday crowd, hardly noticing, or caring, and the man seemed none too concerned either!

I think I would have found a more discreet place to shuck down, and sew up my pants! But, this is the difference between Eastern and Western culture. They know no privacy in Asia!

I’m now resigned to returning to Xinjiang after the Spring Festival rush (after the 28th of January).

Mr. Zhao took me to the train station trying to help me purchase a ticket, but everything is sold out to Uremqi.

But, I have figured out there’s a window of opportunity when the masses have gotten home (28th – 30th). They’re all rushing to get home for New Year’s Eve (27th) and the first big day of the Festival, the 28th. This to share with family. Their rush to get home for this holiday (Lunar New Year) is like rushing home for Christmas holidays (in the West). But, I’m not rushing anywhere, I’m just wanting to return as soon as I can to Kashgar, and for a reasonable amount of money (fare). So, ‘that’s the ‘plan, Stan, get out the back, Jack! Just get yourself free!’ And free to me is outta the big city!

Shang Hai, wonderful in many respects (very sophisticated), I can only endure for so long. Eventually, if I could not ride the rails, I’d walk the highways! Had I brought Ms. Fiets, and the things I needed to cycle, I would consider cranking back! From Shanghai to Uremqi only taking six weeks!

But, can there be seclusion, without congestion?

‘Know!’

No violence,
No peace!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No female,
No male!

Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No darkness,
No light!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No expression,
No suppression!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No old,
No young?
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No exhaustion,
No rest!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No hubris,
No humility!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No pain,
No pleasure!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No hate,
No love!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No death,
No life!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No ‘one,’
No ‘too!’
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
No duality,
No singularity!
Can we have ‘won,’
Without the other?
‘Know!’

By the way, the online ezine, ‘Ovi Magazine,’ produced in Helsinki, Finland is now ‘publishing’ our ‘Dosages,’ as a part of their WEB site (www.ovimagazine.com) ezine. We’re making regular contributions. And you can too!

Today an article by Harold Pinter about the U.S.’ current foreign policy. How many of you have heard of Harold Pinter? I’ll bet Marty knows! This article I’m distributing to everyone in my ‘address book,’ so be prepared! It’s important to read!

Speaking of no ‘personal space’ in Asia, an example today… I was in line waiting to purchase some food in a market. Suddenly I felt something touching my right leg, a human hand no less. The middle-aged woman standing behind me in line was examining my pants (trekking variety), explaining such to her little girl.

Now, what would have happened in the U.S. if a woman started touching your legs (while waiting in line at a food market)? I think at the very least you’d say, ‘Excuse me?’ Of course, it wouldn’t happen there most likely. But, here in Asia people think nothing of invading your ‘personal space,’ as the concept of ‘privacy’ is ‘foreign’ to them.

I’m reading Pearl S. Buck’s ‘The Good Earth!’ I want to turn her Chinese stories into a Chinese mini-series, I think the time is right? Any of you heard of Pearl S. Buck? She won a Nobel Prize for literature! Ole Pearl from West Virgina!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

14 January 2006 The Daily Dosage

I’m come across something cute in the ‘Lonely Planet’s, Mandarin Praise Book.’ I now know how to say the following in Chinese, in case I should need:

“Do you have a condom?”

“Let’s use a condom!”

“I won’t do it without protection!”

“Kiss me!”

“I want you!”

“I want to make love to you!”

“It’s my first time!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll do it myself!” (I wonder what you would do if your partner said this to you at this point?) ‘Go right ahead sweetheart, I like to watch!’ Remember a movie entitled, ‘Being There?’

“How about getting into to bed?”

“Touch me here!”

“Do you like this?

“I don’t like that!”

“I think we should stop now!”

“Oh Yeah!”

“That’s great!”

“Easy Tiger!”

“Faster!”

“Harder!”

“Slower!”

“Softer!”

“That was amazing!”

“That was weird!”

“That was wild!”
“Can I call you?”

“Can I see you?”

“Can I stay over?”

“I love you!”

I think I will use this ‘dialogue as scene study’ in my acting class… See what ‘comes up!’

Life, it’s all too interesting, although most people don’t have time to notice!

‘Hey, is that a bunch of bananas in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?’ I’d like this translated into Chinese, put on a T-shirt!

Do you, are you old enough, to know the name ‘Mae West?’ A ‘reel’ woman! She would have appreciated the above! I can see her and W.C. Fields doing this scene!

Today, Zhao Xu Jian swept me away to go to the train station. This in an attempt to help me purchase a train ticket to Uremqi. But, there are none to be had! So, I may be ‘stuck’ in Shang Hai, until the ‘bubble,’ bursts.

I’ve figured out, however, that there may be a ‘window of opportunity,’ on the 28th or 29th (of January). The hordes are rushing home to be with their families for New Year’s Eve (27th), and the big first day of a week long Festival (28th). But, what about once they’re mostly home? If the trains are still running this might be the time to travel. I fantasize an empty RR car, maybe ten quiet Chinese people (a non sequitur). Anyway, an idea…

The pigeons in China, they fly round and round!
The pigeons in China, they fly round and round!
The pigeons in China, they fly round and round!

Interesting about these Chinese pigeons, the same ones in Shanghai, are in Kashgar, and doing the same thing: flying round and round. I’ve been observing them everywhere in China. This may be unique having the same bird species in every part of a country. Shanghai, low, green, wet and warm. Kashgar, higher, brown, dry and cooler! This is a very adaptable bird species. They can live anywhere, and always seem happy about it, flying round and round!

And some of the pigeons are white in color! I mistook them for doves the first time I saw them. But, they walk like pigeons, their little heads rocking back and forth.

‘Walk like a pigeon, sit like a turtle, sleep like a dog,’ if you want to live long, says a Chinese proverb. I can walk like a pigeon. I can almost sit like a turtle. But, I sleep like a cat, rather than a dog. Oh, well, I didn’t want to live forever anyway!

The word for ‘pigeon’ in Chinese, ‘gezi’ (in Pinyin), thus I can write the Chinese as,
∏ˆ◊÷ . This is different than in the dictionary, however. In the dictionary they use two different characters to ‘write, pigeon.’ What gives?

I’m finding this is the challenge with the written Chinese language. What the computer does with ‘Chinese Simplified IME,’ is different than in this Chinese-English dictionary! Ke garne?

It could be that my ‘Chinese-English Pinyin Dictionary,’ by New World Press is using the older, ‘full-form’ characters?

In 1954, the ‘The Committee for Reforming the Chinese Language,’ ‘simplified’ some of the characters. However, Taiwan and Hong Kong didn’t go along (of course… Someone always has to be different!). Some 2,200 characters were simplified. Now, however, it seems the old-style characters are making a comeback in advertising and on signs (as more attractive).

It seems to me that ‘simplification,’ in any form is a good idea! Especially in this age of computers.

I wonder what the Chinese characters are for a ‘1’ and a ‘0?’ These, the ‘yin and yang’ of all computer speak!

Yin ”¢, yang—Ó, if I write as English (with my computer). Then in the dictionary, yin is… Well, nothing, as it turns out neither word is listed in this dictionary. Interesting…

Language, spoken or written… The least precise way to communicate!

14 January 2006 The Daily Dosage

I’m come across something cute in the ‘Lonely Planet’s, Mandarin Praise Book.’ I now know how to say the following in Chinese, in case I should need:

“Do you have a condom?”

“Let’s use a condom!”

“I won’t do it without protection!”

“Kiss me!”

“I want you!”

“I want to make love to you!”

“It’s my first time!”

“Don’t worry, I’ll do it myself!” (I wonder what you would do if your partner said this to you at this point?) ‘Go right ahead sweetheart, I like to watch!’ Remember a movie entitled, ‘Being There?’

“How about getting into to bed?”

“Touch me here!”

“Do you like this?

“I don’t like that!”

“I think we should stop now!”

“Oh Yeah!”

“That’s great!”

“Easy Tiger!”

“Faster!”

“Harder!”

“Slower!”

“Softer!”

“That was amazing!”

“That was weird!”

“That was wild!”
“Can I call you?”

“Can I see you?”

“Can I stay over?”

“I love you!”

I think I will use this ‘dialogue as scene study’ in my acting class… See what ‘comes up!’

Life, it’s all too interesting, although most people don’t have time to notice!

‘Hey, is that a bunch of bananas in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?’ I’d like this translated into Chinese, put on a T-shirt!

Do you, are you old enough, to know the name ‘Mae West?’ A ‘reel’ woman! She would have appreciated the above! I can see her and W.C. Fields doing this scene!

Today, Zhao Xu Jian swept me away to go to the train station. This in an attempt to help me purchase a train ticket to Uremqi. But, there are none to be had! So, I may be ‘stuck’ in Shang Hai, until the ‘bubble,’ bursts.

I’ve figured out, however, that there may be a ‘window of opportunity,’ on the 28th or 29th (of January). The hordes are rushing home to be with their families for New Year’s Eve (27th), and the big first day of a week long Festival (28th). But, what about once they’re mostly home? If the trains are still running this might be the time to travel. I fantasize an empty RR car, maybe ten quiet Chinese people (a non sequitur). Anyway, an idea…

The pigeons in China, they fly round and round!
The pigeons in China, they fly round and round!
The pigeons in China, they fly round and round!

Interesting about these Chinese pigeons, the same ones in Shanghai, are in Kashgar, and doing the same thing: flying round and round. I’ve been observing them everywhere in China. This may be unique having the same bird species in every part of a country. Shanghai, low, green, wet and warm. Kashgar, higher, brown, dry and cooler! This is a very adaptable bird species. They can live anywhere, and always seem happy about it, flying round and round!

And some of the pigeons are white in color! I mistook them for doves the first time I saw them. But, they walk like pigeons, their little heads rocking back and forth.

‘Walk like a pigeon, sit like a turtle, sleep like a dog,’ if you want to live long, says a Chinese proverb. I can walk like a pigeon. I can almost sit like a turtle. But, I sleep like a cat, rather than a dog. Oh, well, I didn’t want to live forever anyway!

The word for ‘pigeon’ in Chinese, ‘gezi’ (in Pinyin), thus I can write the Chinese as,
∏ˆ◊÷ . This is different than in the dictionary, however. In the dictionary they use two different characters to ‘write, pigeon.’ What gives?

I’m finding this is the challenge with the written Chinese language. What the computer does with ‘Chinese Simplified IME,’ is different than in this Chinese-English dictionary! Ke garne?

It could be that my ‘Chinese-English Pinyin Dictionary,’ by New World Press is using the older, ‘full-form’ characters?

In 1954, the ‘The Committee for Reforming the Chinese Language,’ ‘simplified’ some of the characters. However, Taiwan and Hong Kong didn’t go along (of course… Someone always has to be different!). Some 2,200 characters were simplified. Now, however, it seems the old-style characters are making a comeback in advertising and on signs (as more attractive).

It seems to me that ‘simplification,’ in any form is a good idea! Especially in this age of computers.

I wonder what the Chinese characters are for a ‘1’ and a ‘0?’ These, the ‘yin and yang’ of all computer speak!

Yin ”¢, yang—Ó, if I write as English (with my computer). Then in the dictionary, yin is… Well, nothing, as it turns out neither word is listed in this dictionary. Interesting…

Language, spoken or written… The least precise way to communicate!

Friday the 13th, January, 2006, The Daily Dosaaage…

‘Tricadecaphobia’… Silly business! ’13,’ has always been one of my luckier numbers. So, why all the fuss? I learned recently reading, ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ Seems Pope Leo rounded up many Knights Templar(s) and tortured/executed them on this day (way back in history). Thus, it became know as ‘unlucky!’ or to beware! Anyway, a little bit of history, however accurate. ‘History is written by the winners,’ someone said, thus suspect.

I’m still in Shanghai.

Things, things, things,
People rushing,
Things, things, things,
Running, running, running,
Things, things, things,
Yelling, yelling, yelling,
Things, things, things,
People rushing,
People buying,
People selling,
Things, things, things,
Sirens blaring,
Honking, honking, honking,
People running
Faster, faster, faster!

Things, things, things,
People smoking,
Blowing, blowing, blowing,
People working,
Money, money, money,
People eating,
Digest, digesting, digested,
Red, green, amber all,
Things, things, things,
More, more, more,
Yelling, yelling, yelling,
Things, things, things,
And more things,
In Shang Hai!

It’s tough for me to be in a City like this for too long, and now it’s getting to be too long. My feet never touch soil, only concrete (people wonder why they become ill), my eyes hardly behold the night sky! I long for the country, peace, fewer people!

In the meantime, life in the ‘crowded lane’…

Bhuwan and I went to purchase a RR ticket a couple days ago. No tickets to Uremqi until after the ‘Spring Festival.’ I was not shocked, as I’m now privy to travelling in China. Everyone goes home for ‘Spring Festival,’ and there was some ‘shocking’ number of ‘trips’ predicted to be purchased during this holiday period… Something like one billion! That means 500,000,000 people are travelling during this period! Can you imagine 2X the entire population of the U.S. are travelling in a two-week period (entirely within China)!

Normally, the train stations are jammed, but I can only imagine this ‘nightmare!’

Once again the Zhaos are helping, however! Stephanie found out that Dr. Linj (Mr. Zhao’s TCM doctor at Gongming) is returning to Altay (northern Xinjiang Province) and knows how to get tickets. He said he’d get one for me! The departure won’t be until the 23rd or 24th, but ‘beggars cannot be choosers!’ I thought about flying, but this costs twice as much.

This will put me into Uremqi on the 25th or 26th, the 28th their ‘Christmas’ (New Year’s) Eve! Then how will I get to Kashgar, another 24-hour train ride? I’m not sure. All I know is I’d like to be on Ms. Fiets wherever I go in China (summer or winter).

‘Oh momma, can this really be the end, to be stuck inside of Shanghai with the Xinjiang blues again?’ (slightly paraphrased from Bob Dylan)

My friend Rodney Guan, my Chinese friend in Taizhou, keeps suggesting a bus! But, how to explain I don’t like motorized conveyance, especially buses (which are involved in accidents all the time—going too fast). I want to go very slowly (must be my age)! I want to go on Ms. Fiets!

I was thinking if I were ‘trapped’ in Shang Hai for another month, I’d purchase a small ‘folding’ bicycle, and crank around the area. Amazingly, these only cost from 600 to 1,000 Yuan / $50 to 120 U.S. dollars. I’d then travel it around, easier than Ms. Fiets, as it folds up.

In the meantime, I walk all over Shang Hai.

The other day I was walking back from Shanghai’s Foreign Language Bookstore, and witnessed a Chinese woman fall off a curb (similar to my fall in Kashgar). I helped her up, as she was injured, complaining of her abdomen (possibly cracked a rib). But, she managed to get herself together and go on (no doubt home).

Why do us older people fall? I’m not sure, as my balance is as good as ever! I think maybe we’re not watching as closely, and when we fall the blow is more serious (bigger deal). When you’re younger your body is more flexible, more like rubber and you’re less likely to suffer greatly. However, I did break my leg when only 34-years old. I missed a curb (crossing 2nd Avenue in N.Y.C.), my heel hitting the pavement too hard!

Some other China-cana… My laundress… What a lovely Chinese woman! This is the kind of woman men should marry… Not particularly attractive, but always smiling, always seeming happy!

This middle-aged woman has her little ‘launderette’ across from where I’m living (277 Dong Tai Lu), thus convenient for me. But, it’s so small and cramped you have to stand on the sidewalk to deliver and pick up whatever—no room inside. There’s also little light or windows (besides the glass doors) in this place full of garments and more garments, hanging, folded, in piles, everywhere. She’s in this little ‘closet,’ working 13 hours per day!

She takes in my little bit of clothing to be washed in ‘kai shue’ ø™ ˝∂Ó (boiling water) and charges me only 10 Yuan ($1.25 U.S.). Then she irons everything including my underwear. I always give her more! Her smile worth millions! I want to do something for her, like take a photograph of her, and ‘plaster’ around the world as a wonderful example (of someone with such a positive attitude).

Note, most Chinese do their own laundry (by hand) and hang it out on poles above the sidewalks. Wherever you go in Shanghai, you see panties, bras, hose, and everything else drying above the sidewalks. No electric clothes driers used here in China (maybe in expensive hotels). Thus, Chinese only go to my ‘laundress’ for ‘cleaning.’ She’s really doing me a favor washing my clothing. But, I go there to see her smile!

More ‘China-cana!’ Shanghai-ians are the most impatient people I’ve ever witnessed (make New Yorkers look like ‘slow pokes’). I’ve been observing their behavior, crossing the streets on red lights (they risk their lives as they can’t wait). Also, in the elevator of my (Zhao’s) building. I ride the elevator up and down to the 23rd floor.

I’m thinking about using the stairs as a workout… 23 flights down and up would be good workout, no doubt. I’m not getting much exercise in Shang Hai!

But, EVERYone, and I mean EVERYone (100% so far) who gets into the elevator (observed) has to ‘hit’ the ‘close door’ button! I’m the only rider who allows the ‘natural cycle,’ to occur (this takes maybe five seconds)! I mean maybe they save two seconds by doing so! But, they can’t wait, ‘rushing, rushing, rushing!’ (note the poem above).

It’s madness! They’ve been sped up like robots, not really knowing why they’re rushing around so fast! It’s crazy!

While waiting for the elevator to arrive (on the ground floor at least) there is a screen where commercials are played (ad infinitum). Some clever person has made sure that every ‘square’ minute everywhere we stand, or sit, or lie down, we’re watching a sales pitch.

Long ago, when I was still ‘mad,’ (‘I’m mad as hell, and am going to do something about it!’) I had an idea for a TV commercial channel! Now, it’s here in this form. And they’re in 99% of the high rise buildings I’ve been in Shang Hai. I’m sure this phenomena exists in other countries too! We can’t go anywhere anymore without being subjected to a TV screen. I mean in the dingiest places in Xinjiang Province, out where you would never suspect such, there it is, a TV blaring!

‘Someday everything’s gonna be different, when I paint my masterpiece!’ (Dylan again).

I have worked in the television industry most my life… Now, I’m going to have to die to get away from it!

Now, ‘programming’ (to ‘program’ us) is coming on your little ‘mobile.’ Chinese teenagers are watching ‘content’ (movies, etc.) on that tiny little screen. They’re like ‘robots!’ staring at that little screen wherever they go. Talk about ‘control!’ And there are 350 million mobile users in China, including me (although I use such differently). I don’t even know how to send a text message!

No one has an original thought anymore… They just ‘participate virtually!’

G. Orwell, was way ahead of his time! He knew one-hundred years ago what was coming! Now, I’m seeing it, and participating in it!

Is it good or bad? Well, one person’s joy is another’s sadness, so who knows. It’s life in the modern world!

For me, I’m extracting myself from it slowly, wanting to go live in nature, far, far from the madding crowd!

‘Modern’ life, it’s all yours!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

09 January 2006 The Daily Dosage!

I got my visa renewed without having to travel to Hong Kong! Yea! This thanks to the Zhaos, my good Chinese friends!

I got ripped off by a street hustler to the tune of $50 U.S. Ugh! This thanks to my own naivete (stupidity). Or, maybe this involves something else…? A lesson perhaps? Sometimes, lessons are expensive!

I just, last night, saw my first Chinese movie in a Chinese theater (in Shang Hai)! The title, ‘A Chinese Tall Story!’ They spoke Mandarin, with Chinese subtitles. Why both?

I am reading simultaneously, ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ and ‘Hamlet!’ Is there a connection?

I also purchased a new Chinese-English dictionary including Pinyin (the romanized sounds of the Chinese characters). It’s taken five months to find a dictionary with Pinyin. Why? The Chinese don’t use them. Only educated Chinese know Pinyin, something that’s come to China in the last fifty years. Mind you, this is a 5,000-year old culture. What percentage of time would 50 years be? .01 %.

But, for the word ‘venue,’ this Dictionary has as the definition, ‘A place where a crime has been committed.’ I don’t think so! This, is interesting and makes my point about language, it’s up for interpretation, language always evolving with culture. The reason English is taking over the wor(l)d, it’s so flexible, ‘elastive,’ my literate friend Peter Stansill describes it! He coined a new word!

I read ‘Forrest Gump,’ the novel in one sitting. And I’m afraid this is one of the times, that Eric Roth’s screenplay is better than the original novel. The novel got lost half way through. Sorry, Mr. Groom!

But, I will quote two things from the book that I could relate to, as when growing up I thought I was an ‘idiot!’ Maybe am one now!

First the epigraph from John Dryden, which I can certainly relate to:

‘’There is pleasure sure in being mad, which none but a madman knows!’

The last lines in the book:

‘I can always look back an say, I ain’t led no hum-drum life! You know what I mean?’ (Please make this my epitaph!)

Other than that the novel a fantasmagorical ‘love story:’ Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl returns, boy loses girl, boy makes love to girl, loses girl, boy fathers girl’s baby, but loses girl. And in the end boy loses girl, but gets son that ain’t no idiot!

It’s easy to see why ‘Hollywood’ reordered the above story… In ‘Hollywood,’ movies 99% of the time at least, the boy must get girl, and vice versa (happy ending)! ‘Hollywood’ doesn’t do parables, which the novel is… It ‘frustrates’ our unconscious desires (we long for a fantasy happy ending, which our lives aren’t)! If you invest millions of dollars in the production of a motion picture, you want viewers to tell their friends that they ‘loved it, and go see!’ You don’t want them to say, ‘bummer!’

I collected my extended Chinese visa on Tuesday. I took Bhuwan along, my Chinese-speaking Nepali friend (whose a doctor now), as I wanted to take him to the Zhao’s medical clinic.

My ‘hat is off,’ to the Chinese Government! This was quick, easy, and efficient, in pleasant surroundings. Could I say as much for the U.S. Government? No. And I certainly can’t say this about the Nepali ‘Government,’ as they can’t find their ‘rearend’ with both hands! So, now I’m ‘good to stay’ in China until June 20th.

I had been told by a Chinese visa-getting company they could get me five months for 1,060 Yuan. I ended up with six months for 414 Yuan. Which only proves one thing… Do it yourself! At least you’ll learn something in the process!

I took Bhuwan to the Zhao’s Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic, and with him, Stephanie and Dr. Ling to lunch. It snowed outside while we sat in luxury inside the ‘Tete a Tete’ Cafe.

I’ve now been in Shang Hai when it was unbearably hot (in June) , and now when it’s snowed (in January)!

But, it’s not that cold in Shang Hai compared to –43C. in Xinjiang, where livestock is dying! China is having the coldest winters in 20 years I read in the ‘China Daily!’

So, I was feeling pretty good! Then I walked ‘downtown’ the next day… Interesting… A mistake in finding Fuzhou Road cost me $50 U.S. As, if I’d gone directly to the ‘Shanghai’s Foreign-Language Bookstore,’ where I was heading, I would have missed ‘John!’. Instead of turning at Fuzhou Road, I went on to Nanjing, the shopping street. This is where the hustlers hang out, looking for ‘fish’ like me (tourists).

‘John’ he called himself, a Chinese guy! ‘John a $50-dollar / 400 Yuan lesson!’ But, maybe for him as well! Me, I thought I was smarter and couldn’t be hustled—wrong again! If you have a heart, you’re vulnerable! That’s my ‘problem!’ I have a big heart! I wanted to help ‘John’ just like I want to help everyone, particularly those in need on the streets! So, it will happen again, probably… As, ‘never tire of helping people!’ I only hope I helped John, with my parting gesture.

‘John,’ wanted to ‘help’ me, a described ‘student’ of English. I should have known right off the bat. But, my defenses were down, ‘they’ve got me where they want me, and I can’t escape no how!’ He would show me where Fuzhou Road was, and take me to the bookstore (I knew where it is, having been there before)… We would have coffee later. Ever had a $50-dollar cup of coffee? I’ve had one now! He took me to a ‘clip joint,’ we used to call him, probably getting half the bill (as a fee). Bring the suckers here! I’m sure I needed a reminder, that there are predators out there, and particularly in the big cities (I’ve become a country bumpkin!). Those who need lessons, get them!

But, heading ‘home,’ that didn’t stop me from giving to a blind musician. I hesitated, but then told myself, I shouldn’t stop giving (punish others), because I was stupid! So, I put 20 Yuan in his cup! It turned out to be an expensive day!

Later, back at 2306, I told myself, it’s only money!

Interesting… I thought I was going to have to spend much more getting my visa…. First, maybe travelling to Hong Kong. That would have cost 2,000 Yuan (including the visa fee). Then I thought the fee for six months (in Shanghai) would cost me 800 Yuan (what it did last time). But, this time the fee was only 414, which pleased me no end. But, the 400 Yuan cup of coffee, brought it back up to 800, what I originally thought (and had counted on). So… Am I in the plus or minus category? Always ‘plus,’ if you have your health!

It’s true… It’s only money!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

02 January 2006 The Daily Dosage

Yesterday, the first day of the new 06 year I spent in Christian church! This along with the pain of constipation (is there a metaphor here?). This made for a strange day!

I don’t know if the two, Christianity and constipation have anything to do with one another but I suffered all day long, culminating with another Chinese feast (which I’m afraid didn’t help)! The discomfort of this kind of constipation must be something like a pregnant woman of 40 weeks. You want anything to release this ‘mass,’ this ‘thing,’ this discomfort inside you! But, I agonized in silence, no one knew.

I’m being ‘killed with kindness,’ in Shanghai almost forced to eat in social situations, when I shouldn’t eat at all, but fast! But to refuse would only offend!

I’ve tried to explain this to people, the Zhaos in particular, but haven’t had much success! It seems to me if they see you functioning (ambulatory), and eating something, they think nothing is wrong with you. But, if I had to check myself into a hospital, they would be surprised and might exclaim, ‘Oh, why didn’t you tell us?’ I would respond with, ‘I tried!’ But, it makes no sense to people… You’re either ill or healthy. If you’re walking around and not in a hospital, you’re fine! You should eat!

Many people think eating is the solution to all things! For me, not eating is the solution to good health! But, how to explain this to Chinese people, who I’ve been told consider ‘food as God!’ and eating a religion.

Certainly, I’ve eaten all over the world, and Chinese cooking/restaurants seem to the best! I wish now I would have partaken when younger and had a functioning digestion! Now, it’s ‘mi fan’ (boiled rice and a vegetable).

Last night there were pigs ears, octopus, pork, salad, many vegetable dishes (mushrooms), paratha (unleavened fried bread), a steamed cake, and watermelon to mention just some of what came to our table (courtesy of Mr. Zhao). The men drank some beer, but none for me. Chinese beer isn’t very good actually.

The good part of the feast were the people, eleven total and must have cost Mr. Zhao a pretty Yuan! But, he seems to like doing such, buying dinner for people. This group included relatives, Stephanie’s grandmother and her friend, a man who bought us lunch, Mr. Xu Zhong Quan (the last name first, thus, Mr. Xu).

Mr. Xu is an interesting scientist who has invented something having to do with digital TV distribution. He’s invited me to his company on Wednesday. Then later in January he’s going to Seattle, Washington, in the U.S. for some conference. We hit it off, as our careers involved the two things that deliver the picture you watch, content on my part, and context on his.

The day started out with me walking to the International Church. I was hoping that walking, some exercise would loosen the bowels (as they say). I stopped at Starbucks and had a grande cup of Café Americano, hoping that would help too. But, nothing worked, and the pain/discomfort got worse.

I had thought of taking a taxi, but noticed the Church on my ‘Yellow Pages,’ map of Shanghai, that it wasn’t that far, so I walked. Stephanie called when I was just a few blocks away, and I made it just in time (their second service at 1000 hours).

We sat in the International section (the loft) of the Church where you have the option of wearing headphones and hearing the service in English. I found this not to my liking as the program, and the hymnal are in English, so no need to hear English really except for the sermon.

At one point, however, I thought I was in serious trouble and might pass out from the pain. This is something I want never to happen, to burden others who wouldn’t really know what to do except call for an ambulance. I prayed. I sang, the service bringing tears to my eyes for several reasons (maybe the pain). It’s been a long time since I was in a gaily decorated Christian Church during the holidays. Déjà vu! It reminded me of my childhood and all the times I stood in Church holding my parent’s hand as a boy. When you get older you get emotional about such reminiscences.

But, amazingly, when I put the ‘body of Christ’ in my mouth during communion the pain subsided. Now, you can ascribe anything you want to this, but I know it was my prayer being answered. I no longer felt like I was going to faint.

Afterwards we walked to a very good restaurant on Hanghan Road (very upscale district in Shanghai) and had lunch (with the pain returning). This with Mr. Xu and his driver/companion (a younger man whose name I never got), Stephanie and I.

It was here Mr. Xu and I got to know one another, both roughly the same age (he a little older being born in 1937). Interestingly, he worked for the Chinese military designing the guidance systems for missiles. Now retired he has his own company that produces this digital TV distribution system (I’ll know more after Wednesday).

Afterwards, we got into his Shanghai Buick and drove to Stephanie’s friend’s ‘play!’
Stephanie had told me she’d been invited to a ‘play,’ a friend was ‘producing.’ Me going along with the day none the wiser. Had I known what it turned out to be, I would have ‘bowed out’ (if possible).

The old fashion ‘tent revival’ is alive and well in Shanghai, thanks to ‘Focus on the Family,’ (from CS no less)! It started out as a Christmas ‘playlette,’ and then segued into a ‘Focus on the Family,’ production complete with testimonies about how ‘Jesus,’ had saved their marriages. This production was too long of course.

Uncomfortable, I had to go to the toilet in the middle of the ‘revival.’ Not wanting to disturb people in our row, I stood aside and waited for a change of scenes to return to my seat. While I was standing there a Chinese woman walked up to me, and started asking questions. Big mistake! Older people… You shouldn’t ask us unless you want a truthful, and sometimes very direct answer. She asked me if I were a Christian. Always the same question, as if you’re not, they want you to join! I gave her my usual reply to such, ‘I am a Christian. I am a Jew! I am a Moslem! I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Taoist, a Sufi, and on and on. Ending with, ‘I’m all of them, but not just one!’ This is a good response as these evangelical proselytizing types as they don’t know how to respond when you answer this way. Then she wanted to know who I was with (being the only white face).

In my seat again, I sat through, song after song and testimonies that seemed to drag on forever. But, the Chinese in the audience, they were curious and polite. A good crowd of some 200 people. But, the ‘show,’ technically less than you would expect from ‘Focus on the Family.’

I think the total length of this ‘dog and pony’ show was almost three hours! When asked later by Stephanie’s ‘friend,’ how I liked it, I replied, ‘It wore me out!’ Nervous laughter. Don’t ask if you’ve bored me, annoyed me, and otherwise wasted my time.

Stephanie, however, is so sweet and angelic I never want to offend. She’s been so good to me—her family! She’s the kind of Christian (along with Jim Speer) that truly gives in a loving way!

From there we drove to the ‘Forever Lucky Restaurant.’ This place, a Chinese eating palace. Most of these kinds of places have large circular tables with what we called ‘lazy Susan’s’ or rotating trays in the middle. The dishes are places on this rotating table and you take what you wish. This restaurant I’d eaten in before, as I remembered all the fish tanks. It’s famous for fish!

All of you ‘out there,’ you must eat in China before you die!

There were a total of eleven of us: Mr. Zhao, his wife, her mother, Stephanie, Dr. Ling, Stephanie’s Aunt and Uncle just back from Vancouver, B.C. (he sells securities), Mr. Xu, the inventor, Bhuwan and me. Mr. Zhao brought out their newspaper AD for Gongming. Being an entrepreneur he’s always promoting his business! Stephanie made me bring out my resume, which seems to impress people.

When Mr. Xu asked me about writing poems, I eventually pulled out the only one I had entitled, ‘All the Children Are Mine!’

Afterwards Bhuwan (a doctor now) and I walked to a pharmacy to buy some things I need like Fleet enemas and a strong laxative. It’s good to have a Chinese speaker along when buying things I’ve learned. Next door I almost bought some contact lenses, but didn’t. I’m slow to buy, basically hating to shop.

Still in dire straits I went to bed, but somewhat ‘relieved!’ The first day of 2006, if any indication, a challenging Year of the Dog, for a Dragon! But, there’s an old saying that goes, ‘Tough beginning, easy finish,’ or ‘Bad beginning, good ending!’

We shall see!