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!

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