Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to Changsha I go

Okay, I don’t need a pacemaker. That’s good. I have an abnormal ECG but it’s nothing to worry about, or so they say. They also say, “goodbye and good luck”. So hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to China we go.

And Janice, I changed the background so your tired old eyes could read this. I hope when I get as old as you that I will be able to read through hairy chests. Of course, I’ll never be as old as you so I guess I’ll never have the same problems. However, I still love you.

Shujie, who has decided to make the move back to China, and I leave on January 21st for Changsha which is in Hunan Province. The food is very spicy there but that doesn’t matter because I don’t eat real Chinese food. To prove the old adage, “those that can, do, and those that can’t, teach”, I will be teaching research methods for writing a thesis and how to write a research thesis.

I think I’ll have seven students who have their B.A.’s and are planning on going overseas to obtain their Master degree. All I can think about is how are they going to write something in acceptable language and grammar. Shujie thinks they’ll be given a lot of leeway because English is their second language, while I think it won’t matter and everyone is graded on the same scale. I really hope these people are over-achievers but somehow I doubt it.

We got a really cheap one-way ticket to Changsha ($490). We arrive in Beijing and have to spend the night there in a hotel (no charge) and carry on to Changsha in the morning. It will be a long trip. We will move onto the campus but we will immediately begin looking for an apartment. The apartments on campus don’t have kitchens. They said I could eat in the “canteen”. I said, “No, I need a kitchen because I don’t eat Chinese food”. So, I am getting a housing allowance and we will get an apartment with a kitchen.

I will begin classes on January 26 and the Winter break, which is known as the Spring break in China begins February 9 and continues until March 1. So three weeks holidays after 2 weeks of work. Just what I need, more holidays. I’m not sure what we’ll do but I’m sure we’ll visit Baoding and I’ll see all the in-laws. Shujie needs to spend some serious time in Baoding because her son, Qi Ji, is getting married in September.

She has to meet the future bride’s parents who already think she’s a bad mother because she didn’t rush back to China immediately upon word of the engagement. In addition to this foolishness, the groom’s family has to pay the bride’s family for the bride. They brought her up and now she’s leaving home so there is a price to pay. Personally I think she should get up at 5AM, silently close her bedroom door, leave a note that she hoped would say more, and take off, eh.

She is costing about $8,000, which I’m told is cheap. I understand in old China when a girl left home to get married there was a chance her family would never see her again because she belonged to the groom’s family. Many times she would become like a slave to her mother-in-law. I understand that reason but it’s 2015. This is garbage. Not all Chinese do this and others charge a higher price. Once a price is set, it must be paid or there is no wedding. I told Shujie to let me negotiate but she knows me and won’t let me near these people.

They assume Shujie is rich because she married a rich Canadian. I’ll have to meet this rich Canadian because I have no idea who he is. Her ex-husband thinks Shujie should pay everything because she married the rich Canadian. He’s scum. His son told him he’s paying half, so he is. Shujie and him don’t talk so now they have to work out how many weddings there will be. In China when there is a divorced parental couple, many times you do it twice. One time for the mother’s side and another time for the father’s side. Stupid, stupid, stupid. You would think the parents could put aside their hatred for each other and play nice for their child. We’ll see what will happen. Shujie and her ex haven’t spoken for years but she thinks it should be one wedding. All I know is that he and the bride’s parents will expect ME to pay. They better sedate me.

I’m really sorry I didn’t get to go to Erbil in Kurdistan. It’s not so easy to get a job anymore because of my advanced age (give me a break). I really wanted a job in Morocco but I didn’t get offered it until a couple of days ago. Too late. I would have made a side trip to Rick’s because I heard everyone goes to Rick’s. However, as time goes by, maybe I’ll make it there.

I never thought I’d be returning to China but never say never. I thought I’d be in Toronto for a year but I can’t wait to leave. I’m bored and my job prospects here are not good. I’ve been out of the I.T. game for too long (and I’m not interested anymore) and no one will pay big bucks for an older trainee. I like teaching. It’s fun. It suits me. And believe it or not, I’m not bad at it. And I deserve it. After all, how many people have open-heart surgery, get cut open, have the doctor say, “oops, can’t do what I planned to do”, and get closed up again. I’ll tell you how many people this happens to. According to my cardiologist, I’m the only one he’s ever heard of. According to my surgeon, I’m the second he’s heard of. Hardly any, that’s how many.

So another adventure begins. Who knows how it will go. You never know until you get there. If you expect anything, expect the unexpected. In fact, expect the Spanish Inquisition. No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition. But at least Janice will be able to read this unimpeded by my hairy chest.

spanish inquisition

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