Friday, November 9, 2007

tests, wushu, and grimus

(crossposted from my personal journal, because I'm terrible at updating this thing)

---- Finshed my tests. They were not at all what I was expecting - I figured that the General Language would not be as hard as it was; after that, I figured that the Listening and Speaking would both be harder than they turned out to be. (I mean the listening especially - I went into the test thinking, "awshitson, it's going to be as hard as in class," and then the questions were like, "I have visited china two times. QUESTION: what visit is this?" and I was like, " . . . that's it?" and possibly did better than I hoped! :D ) And then speaking was every bit as awkward as it could have been, because a big part of it was about Reading Aloud A Text, which I am notedly not good at.

Things to focus on, now that I know what to: Listening (as usual); reading dialogues aloud) both for future tests and for future not-making-dumb-of-self-s); characters (as per usual).


---- Looks like I'm signing back up for Martial Arts class! It started with about 12, 14 people, and as the weather got colder and the time closer to exams, fewer and fewer people came regularly, until where we stand now is 5 people, who all, however, want to continue.

I won't pretend that I'm any good at it. I'm learning, but I've never been particularly graceful, or particularly coordinated, and I'm sure I look rather hilarious. (I know I do, from the day it was really cold and we practiced inside, in front of a mirrored wall. GO AWKWARD GO.) But I'm learning. Slowly, and looking like someone jsut out of clown college all the while, but learning, right?

Our teacher's an interesting sort. You'd think a guy teaching people how to punch and kick would be fairly badass, right? Naw. He doesn't need to be badass. He's quiet and tired-eyed and asks his students how to say things in English, and took until the tenth class out of twelve before getting comfortable with joking with us, and then, before or after practice, we see him warming up with stuff you'd see in a movie. He can move like - I don't even know what to use to compare, but when he demonstrates moves, we tend to tell each other, "okay, I am never going to get into a fight with this guy, ever."

(And that description is entirely inadequate, but well.)


---- Finished Salman Rushdie's Grimus yesterday. I'm curious where the line is between Fantasy and Magical Realism, because that book could be classified as either with no problem at all, and yet you get people thinking "oh, fantasy, that's kid stuff."

Oh no. No, Grimus is not kid stuff.

But it's interesting, I'll tell you that. It's another of these "put lots of elements together, and it works" kinds of books. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who's easily squicked, but it's good, and, if you love playing around with languages, a delight to read. And, if you're an English teacher at heart, a delight to analyze. :D


Going to go write NaNo now! Bye!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I realize that I’ve been making excuses to myself not to blog, the main one being that I don’t have the energy to translate into Hungarian, and the second being that I don’t want to be that formal. So from this point on, I’m

1) probably not going to be blogging in Hungarian
and 2) going to be very informal with my writing.

Because that’s how I roll, and that’s how it’s easiest for me to write.

So. Sorry I haven’t written for a bit – I’ve been busy and lazy and lots of other words. I’ll tell you about my Chinese National Day Week Holiday later – right now, though, it’s time for


IKEA in Beijing is like a little Swedish island in China. An island predominated mainly by furniture, mind you, but I’m not complaining, because I got what I wanted. (What I wanted: a blanket or two, and flowerpots. What I got: two blankets, a pillowcase, a flowerpot, a frying-pan, and Various Swedish Candy Yummies.)

IKEA is the same everywhere you go – you’re always going to run into the same bookcase or bed or tasteful hand-knitted rug or whathaveyou. That’s its charm, here in China: it’s got Western style and Western atmosphere – appeals to both Chinese and Westerners, the former because it’s unusual, and the latter because it’s like home, or at least like the IKEA at home. It’s to be noted (in the passive voice!) that I saw a greater concentration of Westerners there than most other places in Beijing, barring embassies, airports, and tourist traps.

Another important part of its appeal, for me and my roommate, at least, was that it had Swedish food. This is acquirable both at a store – imports of Kalle, kneck, licorice, and pepperakor – and at a restaurant. Said restaurant also catered to Chinese tastes – a couple of its dishes had nothing to do with Sweden, evidenced by the fact that they required the use of a wok to make.

Needless to say, my roomie and I ate dinner at the furniture store.

(Also needless to say, we’re going back.)


Monday, October 8, 2007

Things You Can Only See in China

This is a filler photopost. I will update properly soon, I promise.
Dolgok Amit Csak a Kinaban Lehet Latni

Ez csak kepes-post. Majd hamarosan irok egy igazi blog-post-ot.

Chestnut-Seller ~:~ Gesztenye-Arulo

Pig on a Wall ~:~ Malac egy Falon

China loves instant noodles. ~:~ Szeretik a Kinaiak a ramen-t.

Statue ~:~ Szobor

Lovepigs ~:~ A Szerelem Malacai

Color-Coded Tourists ~:~ Egszinu Turisták

An Invasion of Bikes ~:~ Bicikli Invázió

Friday, September 14, 2007

Silk Market

Sunday, Lo – a Mexican friend who lives on my dorm – and her roommate and I went to Silk Street market. We decided to take the bus – a brilliant move, considering that the station we actually arrived at proved to be ten minutes drive away from the intersection we intended to arrive at.

So much for that. None of us was particularly afraid of walking, so that’s what we started doing. We had a vague idea of the direction, and so Lo – being the most Chinesely-inclined of the three of us – got directions for a newspaperman. “Oh, it’s an hour away!” he said, and Lo assured us, “the Chinese don’t like walking. If something is more than two blocks, they say it’s an hour away.” We went the way we were pointed, running into a construction site, through a residential area, through a hotel area, and – after directions from an old couple, a teenage girl, a policeman, and a street person – we finally arrived, at the end of a dirt lane, at the sketchiest tunnel in the world. I swear, it was a place out of every noir and cyberpunk you’ve ever seen.

Once through it, though, we came out onto another residential area, this one of the typically Chinese sort, with small shops, and people setting up shops in front of the shops, and street food being cooked out in front of everyone, and horsecarts full of watermelons going by. Lo bought pears from a man with a box on his bike, and, after being directed three ways by three people and yelled at by a fake monk, we arrived at Silk Street.

If you meet any of the following qualifications:

- being a tourist
- enjoy bargaining
- enjoy being harried
- no personal bubble
- good taste
- bad taste
- no taste
- sense of humor
- pregnant or nursing

…then please consult a doctor if Silk Street is right for you!

Silk Street is a five-story indoor market, of the shops-and-stalls variety. It is impossible to describe without more pictures than I have with me, so I’m going to have to take some more, later. It’s full, though, I can tell you that. It’s not for agoraphobics – the salespeople pull you into their stalls, and the tourists shove you out of the way, and everyone assumes that 1) you speak English, and 2) you’re loaded.

We only went in for a few things – I for pictures for my wall, Lo for silk for her wall, and all three of us for shoes. (I just ran out of sandals.) None of us found the kinds of shoes we were looking for, but I helped Lo’s roommate bargain a pair of fluffy slippers down from 285 kuai a pair to 110 kuai for two pair. Up on the Silk level (different floors are dedicated to different products), Lo found a pashmina scarf more suitable for decorating a wall than a person, and, with my help (“it should be 85”), avoided the salesman’s “for you, 600 kuai.”

Top floor I bought pictures for my dorm: one of fruit, one of gourds, and one little sketch. I could probably have gotten the price to my original estimate (75ish), but when the artist asked 150 for one, I had to revise a bit, and ended with 110 for the three of them. It seemed to make everybody happy – certainly I like my cheerful wallfruit.


Vasárnap, Lo – egy mexikoi barát aki a dorm emeletemen lakik – s a szobatársa s én mentunk a Selyem Utcai Piacra. Mentünk busszal, ami kiderült hogy nagyon ugyes ötlet – a megálo tiz perc vezetés onnan amint gondoltuk.

Hát, az volt. Egyiken se féltünk a kis sétálástol, s kezdtünk arrafelé, amerre gondoltük hogy van a piac. Lo kérdezte egy ujságostol merre van: “hát,” mondta, “bisztosan egy ora seta.” Lo megmondta nekünk, “a kinaiak nem szeretnek sétálni. Ha valami messzebb mint két utca, aztmondják hogy egy ora.”

Mentünk arra amerre mutatott, át újjáépítésen, házakon, s hotelokon, és – amiután kérdeztünk merre menjunk két öregtöl, egy lánytol, egy rendörtöl, s egy hajléktalantol – megérkeztünk egy földut végén, a Világ Leggyanúsabb Alagutjánál.

De a másik oldalán, ha nem tejesen tiszta, akkor legalább megbiztato volt. Nagyon kinai residential-féle lakohej volt: kisboltok, s kisboltok a kisboltok elött, s azok elött sütögetnek emberek ennivalot az utca mellet. Lovaskocsik is, persze, tele görögdinnyével. Lo körtéket vett egy biciklistöl, s három ut-kérdezés után (s amiután mű-buddhista ránkvisitatt mert nem vettunk töle dolgot), verge megértünk a Selyem Piacnál.


- turista vagy
- szeretsz alkudni
- szeretsz lökdösni
- nem szeretsz sok helyet
- jo izlésed van
- rossz izlésed van
- nincs izlésed
- érted mi a vicc
- terhes

… akkor kérdezd a doktort a Selyem Piacrol!

Na jo. Selyem Utca egy öt-emeletes piac. Nehéz lerajzolni több kép nékül – majd késobb tudok csinalni. Azt tudom mondani hogy tele. Nem egy hej azoknak akik nem szeretnek a sok embereket – az eladók behúznak a boltokba, s a turisták lőkdösnek, s mindenki abban bisztos hogy 1) besélsz angolul, és 2) tele vagy pénzel.

Nem sokat kerestünk. En képeket a falomra, Lo is faldíszitéset, s mindanjan cipőket. (Nincsen már szandálom.) Egyikünk se talált a cipőt amit kerestünk, de segitettem a Lo szobatársát lealkudni papucs 285 kuai-tol egy párért 110 kuai-ra két párért. Főnn a Selyem emeleten, Lo talált egy pasmina salt ami jobban néz ki falon mint emberen, s a segitségemmel (“85-nak kéne lennie”), elkerülte az eladónak a “neked, 600 kaui.”

Legfelső emeleten vettem képeket a dorm falomra: egyik gyümölcs, másik tök, harmadik kis kép. Kis alkudozás utan, 110ért megkaptam a hármat, s ugy laszik mindenki boldog – legalább én bisztosan, mert szeretem a képjeimet.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Feel 100 to be Different

Or anyway, that’s what the Chinese T-Shirt Sages say. The Chinglish on t-shirts can sometimes make sense, but this one I’m still trying to figure out.

I went to Wu-mart yesterday. It’s not a place I usually go, but it was the only place I could get all my dorm’s cleaning and deroaching and normal supplies for under 40$. I went with the Indian girls, Pema and Parul, and the Filipino girl, Wendy; I don’t know if they’ve all been to Walmarts before or not, but everyone was fascinated, and Pema kept wandering off. It is an interesting place. Wu-mart is four stories of a cross between department store, appliance store, and grocery store, except that while this may sound familiar to you in the States, remember: this one’s in China.

I didn’t bring my camera, and Walmart being Walmart, would probably not have been allowed to take pictures anyway. Suffice it to say, though, a Chinese Walmart is service-oriented. China itself is very service-oriented, yes, but it’s a little unnerving to have a saleslady at every second item telling you about it. It’s very unnerving to reach out to try a sample of something (some kind of seaweed-looking noodle, in case you wonder), and find TWO SALESWOMEN THERE AT YOUR ELBOW like they exist solely to watch you take a bite of this seaweed noodle thing.

Let me demonstrate this as a play.

Me: (looks at samples, is curious ‘cause she’s never tried this thing)
Saleswomen: (prowl)
Me: (reaches for toothpick, spears a noodle)
Saleswomen: (APPEAR OUT OF NOWHERE and look encouraging and STARE)
Me: … (pauses)
Saleswomen: (look encouraging. Stare.)
Me: O_O
Saleswomen: (motion me to try it)
Me: (tries it, doesn’t care too much for it)
Saleswomen: (show me which product it is! Even though the containers are all over the stand!)
Me: Uh… (retreat!)
Other Chinese customers: (come in, try product)
Saleswomen: (vanish)

Very disorienting.

A word about free samples in China: free. If you’re going to put them out, fully expect people to graze. There were samples everywhere, and, after looking at the live crabs and dead fish, Wendy and I went on a sample-tasting spree. We weren’t alone – people had no compunctions about trying things and then not buying them. And the salespeople didn’t expect otherwise, apparently. Because of this expectation, no one got harassed when they didn’t buy what they’d tasted, and Wendy and I used this to our full advantage, trying Chinese sausages, hot pickled items, and various fruits.

We did buy things, all of us. I bought the most, because I hadn’t expected a dorm like I have, and didn’t bring such things as a towel, or Tupperware (against cockroaches). But the first and foremost reason to go there was the cockroach-killing supplies. My new room, I was dismayed to find, is infested. So I’ve stripped it down, laid it bare, and launched my first offensive. I say “my first” because I know this will be a long fight, probably over the course of the semester. But I have no doubt of my capability, and, today, plan to clean out and move into my new dorm. The boy who lived there offered to help, and I plan to have him make good on that offer – he had until today to move out, and so he’s going to help me clean the place so I can move in.

So that’s the plan for today. Sweep out cadavers, overhaul the room, and set some traps. I’ll be sleeping in the new room tonight – wish me luck on that!

(note – 8 pictures uploaded to my DA.)


Erezzél 100 hogy Más Legyél

Legalább azt mondják a Kinai Ing Irók. A kínaiaknak az Angola néha erthetö, néha kevesebben érthetö, s az ingeken lehet ilyen vicceseket látni.

Mentem Wu-marthoz tegnap. Nem egy hej ahova normálisan megyek, de ez az eg hej ahol tudom megvenni a telyes dorm holmimat 40$ alatt. Eggyutt mentem két Indiai ismerössel, Pema és Parul, s egy Filip-szigeti lányal, Wendy. Nem tudom ha már voltak mindanyan Walmartban, de mindenkit érdekelte, s a Pema töbször elkoborolt nézni dolgokat. Igazán érdekes hej. Wu-mart egy 4-emeletes oriási bolt, tele mindennel – ruhával, főző s ojasmi holmi, s ennivalo, de ha ismerösnek hangzik, kéne emlékezni egy dologra: ez Kínában van.

Nem hoztam a kamerámat, s nem bisztos, ha hoztam volna, mert nem lehetett volna fényképezni. Elég azt mondani hogy a Kina majdnem túl figyelnek a vásárlókra. Kicsit megrázz ha mindegyik másik dolognál van egy eladonéni aki a dologrol beszél. Nagyon megrázz ha megakarsz kostolni egy ingyen kostolot (valamilyen tengernovényes-nudli-féle, ha érdekel), s OTT TALÁSZ KÉT NÉNI MELLETTED mintha pont azért léteznek hogy nézzenek amig eszel.

A drama érdekében, megmondom mintha elöadás lenne.

Én: (nézi a nudli-dolog-kostolokat, érdekel)
Nénik: (lapulnak)
Én: (kinyuti a kezét, vesz egyiket)
Én: … (nem csinál semmit)
Nénik: (néznek)
Én: …jaj.
Nénik: (mutatják hogy kostoljam)
Én: (megkostolja, mm, nem nagyon szereti)
Nénik: (nagy leleksen probálnak eladni zacskokat belöle)
Én: Uh … (elvonulás!)
Másik Kinaiak: (kostoljak)
Nénik: (eltunnek mint a szél)

Láthatod, rázo.

Egy szó azoknak akik akarnak ingyen kostolókat tenni ki a Kinai boltokban: Ha ingyenek, és nem kéne venni, akkor csak falják az emberek. Wendy is én halgattuk a mondásra “Amikor a Romában”, és kostoltunk sokféle uj dologbol – Kinai kolbászokat, erös uborkákat, Kinai jokurtot, s többféle gyümölcs.

Mindanian vettünk dolgokat, persze. Én a letöbbet, mert nem vártam el hogy ilyen lesz a dormom. De a csótányöllőkböl vettünk a legtöbbet. Az uj szobám, azt találtam, tele vany velük. Tehát kivettem mindent, szétszedtem még az ágyakat is, és az elsö harcat kezdtem. “Elsö”-t mondom mert tudom hogy hosszu idöt fog tartani. De bisztos vagyok hogy majd meg tudom csinalni, s a mai nap az tisztitásra é beköltözésre szántam. A fiu aki ott lakott igért hogy segiteni fog, s majd ráveszem, hogy ne osonjan ki az igeréséböl – ma kellet volna neki kiköltözni.

Hát, az a mai terv. Tisztitani, ki-be-költözni, s csapdákat tenni csótány ellen. Ha jól mennek a dolgok, majd ma estére fogok az uj szobában aludni!

(ui – tettem fol 8 fényképet ide.)

Monday, September 3, 2007

First post! (You see, I am a creative titler.)

Let’s get this thing started off right. These are the cutest tissue packets I’ve ever seen. (pic thereof) I kept looking for a Libra (my sign), but didn’t find a one, sadly.

Alright. So, after a hairy few days of confusion, homesickness, and general not-knowing-as-much-Chinese-as-Chinese-people, I’ve finally gotten registered into a dorm. It’s not the dorm I’m living in now (pic), and not the one they tried to move me into, but rather one whose former occupant I met totally by chance walking through the lobby. His translation efforts were wonderfully helpful, and got me through the registration with so much less trouble than I had the first day I got here (midnight, after a 29-hour travel and with fifty+ pounds of luggage with me).

But right now, things are going well. I’m meeting people, and getting all my school stuff done, and, hopefully, will be starting classes on the 6th. I’ve gone from dreading this thing to looking forward to it (though I’m fairly sure classes might be very difficult, if this summer’s anything to judge by).

I just wanted to mention that I’m writing this from beside the lily pond (yes, we have a lily pond on campus, it’s wonderful and lovely), beside an orange sunset, and with someone flying a kite against the altostratus above me. Possibly it’s understandable why I’m in a good mood.


Jól akkarom kezdeni eszt a blogot, tehát az elsö dolog az ez: ezek a legaranyosabbak tissue paklik amit még láttam. Nem talaltam az én jelemet, de nem baj.

Hát, az elsö napok egy kicsit durvák voltak, honvágy-mijat és a szobahejzet-mijat, de most már jobb a hejzet. Az elsö dormomat csak mostra adták, s a fiuk között volt. Az uj dormomba majd be fogok költözni egy-két nap mulva: talákoztam azzal akié volt, s az segitett regsztrálni – ez sokkal könyebb volt a segistségével mint az elsö napon (amikor éjfél volt, 29 ora futás, kocsizás, és repcsizés után, s nálam volt k.b. 25 kilo csomag).

De most már jobban mennek a dolgok. Találkozok emberekel, az iskolai holmimat is befejezem bajnékul, és, ha jól megy minden, majd kezdek orákat a 6ikan. Elöbb kicsit – hát, kicsit nagyon – izgultam erröl a kínai évröl, de most már alig várom.

Azon a notán, akkartam mondani hogy honnan irom eszt: a vizililiomos tó mellet (igen, a kollezom mellet van egy vizililiomos tó, nagyon szép is hangulatos), narancsszinü naplemente alatt, s fölöttem kite-oznak, bisztosan épület tetejéröl. Talán érthetö miért ilyen jó a kedvem.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

First Post - ch-ch-check (C-C-COMBO BREAKER)

Testing my China blog. Let's see if this works.

Aaand bam. Image.

Real posts coming soon!