Sleep, dentists, and tea

That’s a little more catchy than “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, and it makes you wonder what the hell he’s talking about this time.

When we last left our hero (that’s me I guess), I was about to head out for shou-cow (I seem to spell it differently every time).  I just love that stuff.  I have 2 pieces of chicken, 10 lamb skewers (the lamb pieces are tiny), and 12 potato skewers (3 potato slices on each).  The spice is just the right amount and it’s worth being thirsty all night just for this pleasure.

When it was time to pay, I was the one to call over to the lady owner, “Loban, Mi-dan”, which basically translates to “boss, I’m ready to pay”.  Her and her husband cracked up and actually understood me.  It’s a real pleasure to be a “regular” somewhere where you feel like you’re treated with respect and decently and the “bang for the buck” is amazing.  There’s no tipping here but I always feel like tipping because it almost feels like I’m getting something for nothing.  They must be making money.  They just seem like a couple of decent kids (in their twenties I guess) and I feel a loyalty to their stand.  There are many stands along the street but they’re my choice.  I asked Shujie how do I say, “how are you” so I could say it next time.  That’s a no-go since Chinese don’t say, “how are you”, and come to think of it, who’s ever sincere and listens to the answer anyhow?

Sunday was a lost day.  This trouble sleeping I’m having is getting quite annoying.  I was up about 4:30AM Sunday morning and lay in bed until 6.  We went to the supermarket in the morning and then when we got home I took a nap.  Then I got up and ate lunch.  After lunch I had a long nap.  Then dinner and a movie, a little reading, and back to sleep.  It’s just ridiculous and I hope it stops soon.

While in Nanjing a piece of the front of one of my teeth chipped off.  It was almost a piece from the middle of the front of the tooth.  Of course, that meant a visit to your local Chinese dentist.  This was not something that I wanted to do, but something I had to do.  I asked Shujie to call Wang Jing to get a dentist recommendation.  Guess what?  No recommendation.  It seems Chinese don’t go to the dentist unless it’s an emergency.  No six-month checkups.  No cleanings.  No nothing.

You can go to the dentist at the hospital (no thank you) or there are some who have offices.  Naturally there are no appointments and you just go.  I guess if he’s doing a root canal you just wait.  It’s strange.  Shujie called a couple of places and the first one had two dentists who ran the office.  The dentist with 20 years experience wasn’t going to be in until 7 in the evening.  The dentist who was there didn’t want to work on a foreigner because he only had 2 year’s experience.  I guess Western teeth are different from Asian teeth.  You learn something new every day.

The second place was one dentist who had 20 years experience so we went.  There was no one there except employees.  I’ve never been in an empty dentist’s office.  It was a new office and he’d only been there about a month and it was clean which was a wonderful surprise.  He spoke in a quiet voice (so un-Chinese) so I liked him.  He didn’t speak English, which was fine because dentists who talk to you while their hands are in your mouth are not my favourites.

He fixed the tooth the way I thought he would.  It was painless and quick.  The cost?  It was about $14.  How do these people live?  I decided I would go to him for a cleaning next month.  The cost?  That’s about $12.  He does all his own work including making dentures and he has an x-ray machine.  We got the office tour because what else did he have to do?  So it’s good to get a dentist I feel comfortable with.

At 7PM tonight I had my “tutoring” student, Beata (pronounced Beta).  I keep waiting for the official edition to be released.  She studies “Tea Art” and she brought her tea stuff with her.  Not all her stuff but a tiny teapot, 3 tiny cups, and some tiny bags of tea.  It seems the there is a whole big deal about making tea, the ceremony involved, the music, the ceremony, and you study the growing of the tea trees.  This was our 3rd meeting and although her English is terrible, she’s getting better just by spending time talking.  That pleases me.

I learned something about tea.  You have a different teapot for a different family of teas.  You wouldn’t make a “green tea” in the pot you used to make a “yellow tea”.  Beata studies music because the music is part of the ceremony and atmosphere.  She studies English from a textbook that is written for “Tea Art” students.  She says she’s going to sell tea when she’s graduates.  There are 33 students in her class, 27 females and 6 males.  The males don’t like the ceremony stuff because it’s too feminine so I asked why they took “Tea Art” and she told me it’s because they want to sell tea.

Shujie shows her the door after an hour because I’m too polite.  I told Shujie to show her the door next time after 50 minutes because it’s another 20 minutes or so until she’s out the door.  I’m sure if I said she could come every night, she would.  I’m touched that she’s so comfortable with me and thinks so highly of us.

Tomorrow night is movie night.  This time it’s “Big” starring Tom Hanks.  I’m trying to work with the simpler stories.  Hopefully they’ll enjoy it and realize that it’s a kid who wakes up older.  Who knows what they comprehend.

I will leave you with a picture of Beata filling the teapot.  She is a cutie.

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