Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter in our city

If you follow me on Facebook or know me in real life, you know that last year I complained non-stop about the cold here in North East China.  The cold totally caught me off-guard.  I just couldn't believe how cold it was and how cold I was.  It just bit me mentally and physically.
Fast forward to this fall when everyone keeps saying how cold this winter is supposed to be.  As opposed to last year? Colder?  How could that be?  We've had a really long and not too bad fall.  I have better and warmer long  underwear this year.  I carry more than one pair of gloves with me at all times.  This fall has been fine.
Until today.  I left our house around 8:20 to go to the library to study.  I skip class every once and a while to do catch up studying in the morning.  I do much of my homework and study time in the evenings which is not a good time for me.  We have a nice public library with a foreign book section that is basically empty of people.  I love libraries and it feels good to be there. Libraries are familiar territory for me.
So today, I studied for a few hours.  The sky was black when I left this morning (on my bike) and some sleet was falling.  It turned into full fledged snow about mid-morning.  Around 11:00, I decided to leave and run to the bank and then to the market to get vegetables for minestrone soup.  So I went out to my bike....and the lock was frozen.  I couldn't get it open.  I gave up after about five minutes and decided to walk to the bank and then take the bus to the market.  I walked through the snow to the bank (being thankful for my two pairs of gloves) and took cash out from the ATM.  I walked back out and a few minutes later, a girl came out with my ATM card that I had left in the machine!  I guess there is something to be said for looking totally different than the general population!  She found me immediately!  I was so thankful.
I hopped on the bus that took me down the street, went to my local market and got vegetables for soup.  Walked home in the slush and spent the rest of the afternoon with my tutor and then a local friend came over. Ironically by the time the friend left, there was no time to make the soup so Paul made omelette's.
Flexibility and a sense of humor are so key to living in a different environment.  In a situation like that, you have to be able to laugh and figure out a way to work it out.
You have to be able to laugh at things but not mock.  So I present the following pictures from Beijing in that spirit.
The first two are from the subway.  Beijing is on a campaign called Wen Ming Cheng Shi or civilized city.  Part of that are these signs.  They crack me up because of the pronunciation guidelines to these English words.  The pronunciation is exactly as a Chinese speaker would say them, rather than correct phonetic pronunciation.  For example, there is no "r" sound in "Courtesy" and "Smile" is written as "Smail."  Funny!

The Chinese says (paraphrased) 
"Help each other."

"Safe travel, smiling service".

This was outside a store in a very ritzy part of town.  Honestly, I think that for some of us, the beauty is luxurious imagination.  At least it is for me.

"In learning we trust"  Not really funny but a pretty honest cultural reflection.


Tanya said...

Love it. Luxurious imagination! :)

Pam Terrell said...

Sandy, as you know we moved to similar weather conditions. I have two recommendations that may change your life:
1) a small travel-sized aerosol can of de-icer.
2) Mittens are way warmed than gloves. I most highly recommend felted wool mittens lined with flannel. I don't know if you can buy from Etsy, but they have them.

Stay warm!