By now, I think everyone in China has a picture of me…
And these things are absolutely delicious but I have no idea what to call them…
Yes, I’m still alive, and no, I have not stopped blogging.
I simply decided that due to my rather uninteresting days, I would combine two into one blog post.
So, yesterday (day 16), our group hiked along the City Wall during our “cultural outing”. This excursion was complete with a trip through the crowded streets of the Muslim Quarters (this was the area I visited with Yuan Yuan in my blog post titled “Into the Smoke”), where we bargained and took pictures of students indulging in various meats and fried fruits speared with sharpened, wooden rods. (I got some great, and hilarious, pictures).
Oh, and speaking of me getting great pictures, a lot of people got great pictures of me. Random people (completely random Chinese people of all ages and both genders) keep running up beside me to ask for my picture.
Now, sometimes, they take the picture with me.
Other times, they just stand there and take a picture of only me.
This one old man really wanted a nice picture. He shoved his way through my friends to ask me specifically for a picture. I’ve kind of come to find amusement in this trend, so I accepted and posed.
But, he just motioned me forwards…
So, as my entire group of friends watched, this old man had me stand on the sidewalk and pose beside a giant display of fried fish. He seemed super nice, but his fingers twitched while he held the camera, so this took a while… I can only hold up a peace sign for so long. Sensing my discomfort, my friend Nolan (remember Nolan?) came right up behind me and wrapped his arm around my shoulders to pose with me. Then my friends helped me scurry away and refuse more pictures. (My friends are great).
At the wall, I was stopped about 6 times to take pictures with Chinese teenagers (a lot of them being male), as well as a whole group of little girls that were on a field trip from their local school.
The wall was incredible. It was the vision of our dreams. The exact image we all pictured for our trip to China. Traditional music danced through the air and temples rose out of the wall’s corners while flags flapped in the afternoon wind.
I caught a bunch of people taking pictures of me when I wasn’t looking, but I would simply spin to face their camera and smile, which really made them happy. Who cares, anyway? They’re harmless photos and it’s great to make strangers smile.
(Don’t worry, mom. I’m being reasonable).
Last night, after a filling dinner, I sat down with my grandmother in front of another episode of the Musketeers, and she pulled out one of her granddaughter’s flip books. She thumbed through the pages of fruits, each one showing the pinyin, Chinese characters, and English word (even though some of the English labels were wrong, or spelled incorrectly).
It’s funny. Because Mandarin is a tonal language, and pronunciation is key, she would imitate the exact way I said an English word. Whenever I used hand gestures, she would stare as my fingers drifted through the air, and try to match her pitch to my movements. The slightest fluctuation in my tone (which happened quite a lot; I’ll explain in a minute) would cause her to pronounce the phrase entirely different. I’m not sure how to describe it through a blog post, but it was incredibly fun to watch my Chinese grandmother try to pronounce blueberry.
So, yes, my voice… Well, because of the new air here, I’ve kind of taken on a cold. I pretty much lost my voice. I sound like an 80-year-old smoker.
My grandmother believes it’s because I drink cold water (which is so incredibly strange to her), and because my fan is slowly possessing me. She won’t let me near the air conditioning anymore and refuses to let me turn on the fan. Also, she gave me this weird cup of tea that she concocted out of what looked like dog food and boiled water. It tasted like mint and strawberries… I don’t know. She said it would help my throat (at least, I think she said that), so I drank it… It didn’t help. My friends all think I’m dying.
Anything cold, or used for cooling, is apparently viewed as evil here…
Anyway, I’m going to skip ahead a little.
So, after a quick dinner out with Kevin (we had rice… yay…), we went for a walk (or san bu, in Mandarin… I can already hear my mom and dad trying to pronounce that… agh…). He explained to me that most Chinese people walk after dinner to help with digestion before sleeping. Ironically, my family back home usually does this after dinner anyway. We walk laps around our neighborhood and fend off the mosquitoes before heading to bed.
It was great. We discussed the culture, our families, our dogs, and random foods.
He bought me these little, round, spiky, red fruits the size of my thumb that I have no idea how to pronounce the name of. You peel off the rough skin to reveal an almost sticky, white film that coats the pit. Basically, they’re absolutely delicious.
I’ll have to find them when I get home.
Kevin told me that my grandmother loves being with me (which is an absolute relief). I explained that I could understand a lot more Mandarin than I could actually speak, so most of the conversations with his mother had been fairly one-sided, but I still enjoyed them very much. He said that they all think I am very clever, and that I will learn their language very quickly in the next month. It’s nice to have a family in a foreign land that you can trust, and that will encourage you despite only knowing each other for the past week and a half.
I need to sleep, plus, I’m getting to a really good spot in this Musketeers episode.
My English skills are definitely slipping… Oh well, you can all understand my jibberish, right?
Anyway, I’m not dead, I just need a break from writing every now and then.